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{"id":5515012898966,"title":"Antique Sri Lankan Silver Bible Box, Sri Lanka, Ceylon - Circa 1820","handle":"antique-sri-lankan-silver-bible-box-sri-lanka-ceylon-19th-century","description":"\u003cp\u003eThis, particularly fine, antique silver bible box was made in Sri Lanka in the early 19\u003csup\u003eth\u003c\/sup\u003e century during the years of British colonial rule.  The Dutch part of Ceylon was ceded to the British in 1802 with the whole island coming under British rule from 1815 until the island became independent in 1948.  The box would also interest collectors of Dutch Colonial and Batavian silverware.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eThe box has been finely crafted and ornamented using repousse and chased techniques in the traditional Sri Lankan style.  The ornament mainly consists of stylised floral and foliate elements but in the principal panel, to the cover of the box, there are some exceptionally sympathetic renderings of birds and animals with the stags being particularly noteworthy. This panel has been beautifully designed and is well balanced.  It depicts a vase overflowing with an abundance of luxuriant tropical flowers and foliage.  A stag stands at either side of the small vase facing towards thel vase and the stag on the opposite side of it.  This is probably a depiction of the Sri Lankan sambar deer which live in the lowland and mountain forests of Sri Lanka.  Deer are the protectors of the forest and in the Buddhist philosophy they also symbolise harmony, happiness, peace and longevity. \u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eIn the branches above the vase, birds perch or fly through.  Above and directly in line with the vase, framed by foliage is a double headed or bicephalous bird.  Usually these are western symbols, encountered most often in heraldry, and the birds are eagles.  In the Indian subcontinent, the bird perhaps bears more resemblance to a goose and it is usually known as a gandaberunda.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eThis device was used as a symbol by the Wadiyar Dynasty of the Kingdom of Mysore from the 16th century and appeared on gold pagoda coins minted during the reign of Achyuta Deva Raya (1529–1542), a ruler of the South Indian Vijayanagara Empire, which was thought to be the first time a bicephalous bird was depicted on currency.  In 1892, the Order of Gandaberunda, was instituted by His Highness Sri Sir Chamarajendra Wadiyar, the 23rd Maharaja of Mysore.  This decoration was given by the ruler of Mysore and was viewed at the time by the British as slightly subversive and in defiance of British rule and the supremacy of the Queen Emperor.  After independence, the gandaberunda was adopted as the state symbol of Mysore.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eDepictions of the gandaberunda can often be found within the ornamentation on Sri Lankan silverware and the bird features in stone carvings in the ancient and important Buddhist temple of Kelaniya (Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara), seven miles from Colombo.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eThis solid silver box has been made to reflect the traditional Dutch Colonial style which mimicked the form of the leather-bound bible it was made to contain; they are often referred to as Dutch Colonial bible boxes. Boxes of similar style were made in Sri Lanka, Batavia and Southern India for Dutch settlers.  These objects were for the upper echelons of society and they indicated the high social status of their owners.  Examples can be found within several prominent private and museum collections.  These boxes were made in a variety of materials, particularly in ivory, calamander wood or tortoiseshell, with silver, silver-gilt or gold fittings, whilst solid silver examples occur less frequently. Possibly, at one time, there were proportionately many more silver examples and it is not unlikely that a high percentage of these would have been melted down in the past, as fashions changed and so that the precious metal could be re-purposed.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eThe box is of complex construction; there are panels with undulating surfaces to the sides and to the back whilst the front features a combination of rectilinear and curvilinear surfaces.   It has a flap cover which is hinged at the point where the curved and ribbed spine and flat front cover of the bible would have met.  The edges of the cover have a shaped edge which is scalloped in part and straight in other parts, echoing the profiles of three sides.  A side view of the box reveals it to be of wedge shape, with the height of the box decreasing from the front to the exterior edge of the spine.  \u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eThe back of the box emulates the spine of a book.  The spine has a hemispherical profile and has been ornamented with alternating horizontal - if the ‘book’ were stood upright - bands of plain silver and ornamented silver.  The ornamented bands have been raised above the plain silver forming proud ribs. The sides which form the top and bottom of the book have been ornamented in a similar fashion.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eThe remaining side, which can be found to the front of the box, has five areas of repousse and chased ornamentation set against a plain silver background.  To the centre is a vacant cartouche of plain silver surrounded by ornamentation.  Its shape emulates a lock plate.  To far left and far right are vertical strips of a repeating border.  These have been carefully positioned and are set just a little way in from the corners, which allows the contrast between the areas of plain silver to either side.  To left and right are quatrefoils containing stylised floral sprays.  There is no ornamentation to the \u003cem\u003eunderside of the box and there are no silver marks.\u003c\/em\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eBible boxes were made to contain a small sized personal bible.  An 1808 engraving by Dutch artist, traveller and writer, Jacob Haafner (1754 - 1809) illustrates how they would have been used.  Amongst other things, Haafner wrote and illustrated five travel stories about his life and travels in Ceylon, India and South Africa. One of his illustrations shows the procession of a \u003cem\u003emestice\u003c\/em\u003e or mixed-race woman on her way to church.   The woman is well dressed, she is walking and holding her fan.  Following immediately behind her, a male servant holds a long-handled parasol over the woman to protect her from the sun.  Behind them, a female servant carries the woman’s bible box and her spittoon, indicating that she indulges in chewing betel or areca nuts.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eWithin the collection of the Asian Civilisations Museum is an ivory bible box of similar book form shape which dates to the second half of the 18\u003csup\u003eth\u003c\/sup\u003e century.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cem\u003eProvenance:-   \u003c\/em\u003eEuropean Antiques Trade\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cem\u003eDimensions:-   \u003c\/em\u003eHeight  7  cms;  Width 18.8  cms  Depth 14  cms\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cem\u003eWeight:-  \u003c\/em\u003e        772  grammes\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cem\u003eAcknowledgement\u003c\/em\u003e:-  With grateful thanks to Jan Veenendaal for sharing his expertise.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cem\u003eReferences:-\u003c\/em\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eJan Veenendaal, Furniture from Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India During the Dutch Period, Pages 85 \u0026amp; 86, Foundation Volkenkundig Museum Nusantara, 1985.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eJacob Haafner, Reize in eenen palanquin; of lotgevallen en merkwaardige aanteekeningen op eene reize langs de kusten Orixa en Choromande, Amsterdam 1808\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eAsian Civilisations Museum, accession number 2016-00128\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eStarofmysore.com, February 2017, The Order of Gandaberunda\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eKelaniya Temple, Sri Lanka\u003c\/p\u003e","published_at":"2020-09-03T10:11:19+01:00","created_at":"2020-07-23T09:53:00+01:00","vendor":"Joseph Cohen Antiques","type":"Bible Box","tags":["Sri Lankan Silver"],"price":1100000,"price_min":1100000,"price_max":1100000,"available":true,"price_varies":false,"compare_at_price":null,"compare_at_price_min":0,"compare_at_price_max":0,"compare_at_price_varies":false,"variants":[{"id":35372665864342,"title":"Default Title","option1":"Default Title","option2":null,"option3":null,"sku":"","requires_shipping":true,"taxable":true,"featured_image":null,"available":true,"name":"Antique Sri Lankan Silver Bible Box, Sri Lanka, Ceylon - Circa 1820","public_title":null,"options":["Default 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particularly fine, antique silver bible box was made in Sri Lanka in the early 19\u003csup\u003eth\u003c\/sup\u003e century during the years of British colonial rule.  The Dutch part of Ceylon was ceded to the British in 1802 with the whole island coming under British rule from 1815 until the island became independent in 1948.  The box would also interest collectors of Dutch Colonial and Batavian silverware.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eThe box has been finely crafted and ornamented using repousse and chased techniques in the traditional Sri Lankan style.  The ornament mainly consists of stylised floral and foliate elements but in the principal panel, to the cover of the box, there are some exceptionally sympathetic renderings of birds and animals with the stags being particularly noteworthy. This panel has been beautifully designed and is well balanced.  It depicts a vase overflowing with an abundance of luxuriant tropical flowers and foliage.  A stag stands at either side of the small vase facing towards thel vase and the stag on the opposite side of it.  This is probably a depiction of the Sri Lankan sambar deer which live in the lowland and mountain forests of Sri Lanka.  Deer are the protectors of the forest and in the Buddhist philosophy they also symbolise harmony, happiness, peace and longevity. \u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eIn the branches above the vase, birds perch or fly through.  Above and directly in line with the vase, framed by foliage is a double headed or bicephalous bird.  Usually these are western symbols, encountered most often in heraldry, and the birds are eagles.  In the Indian subcontinent, the bird perhaps bears more resemblance to a goose and it is usually known as a gandaberunda.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eThis device was used as a symbol by the Wadiyar Dynasty of the Kingdom of Mysore from the 16th century and appeared on gold pagoda coins minted during the reign of Achyuta Deva Raya (1529–1542), a ruler of the South Indian Vijayanagara Empire, which was thought to be the first time a bicephalous bird was depicted on currency.  In 1892, the Order of Gandaberunda, was instituted by His Highness Sri Sir Chamarajendra Wadiyar, the 23rd Maharaja of Mysore.  This decoration was given by the ruler of Mysore and was viewed at the time by the British as slightly subversive and in defiance of British rule and the supremacy of the Queen Emperor.  After independence, the gandaberunda was adopted as the state symbol of Mysore.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eDepictions of the gandaberunda can often be found within the ornamentation on Sri Lankan silverware and the bird features in stone carvings in the ancient and important Buddhist temple of Kelaniya (Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara), seven miles from Colombo.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eThis solid silver box has been made to reflect the traditional Dutch Colonial style which mimicked the form of the leather-bound bible it was made to contain; they are often referred to as Dutch Colonial bible boxes. Boxes of similar style were made in Sri Lanka, Batavia and Southern India for Dutch settlers.  These objects were for the upper echelons of society and they indicated the high social status of their owners.  Examples can be found within several prominent private and museum collections.  These boxes were made in a variety of materials, particularly in ivory, calamander wood or tortoiseshell, with silver, silver-gilt or gold fittings, whilst solid silver examples occur less frequently. Possibly, at one time, there were proportionately many more silver examples and it is not unlikely that a high percentage of these would have been melted down in the past, as fashions changed and so that the precious metal could be re-purposed.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eThe box is of complex construction; there are panels with undulating surfaces to the sides and to the back whilst the front features a combination of rectilinear and curvilinear surfaces.   It has a flap cover which is hinged at the point where the curved and ribbed spine and flat front cover of the bible would have met.  The edges of the cover have a shaped edge which is scalloped in part and straight in other parts, echoing the profiles of three sides.  A side view of the box reveals it to be of wedge shape, with the height of the box decreasing from the front to the exterior edge of the spine.  \u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eThe back of the box emulates the spine of a book.  The spine has a hemispherical profile and has been ornamented with alternating horizontal - if the ‘book’ were stood upright - bands of plain silver and ornamented silver.  The ornamented bands have been raised above the plain silver forming proud ribs. The sides which form the top and bottom of the book have been ornamented in a similar fashion.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eThe remaining side, which can be found to the front of the box, has five areas of repousse and chased ornamentation set against a plain silver background.  To the centre is a vacant cartouche of plain silver surrounded by ornamentation.  Its shape emulates a lock plate.  To far left and far right are vertical strips of a repeating border.  These have been carefully positioned and are set just a little way in from the corners, which allows the contrast between the areas of plain silver to either side.  To left and right are quatrefoils containing stylised floral sprays.  There is no ornamentation to the \u003cem\u003eunderside of the box and there are no silver marks.\u003c\/em\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eBible boxes were made to contain a small sized personal bible.  An 1808 engraving by Dutch artist, traveller and writer, Jacob Haafner (1754 - 1809) illustrates how they would have been used.  Amongst other things, Haafner wrote and illustrated five travel stories about his life and travels in Ceylon, India and South Africa. One of his illustrations shows the procession of a \u003cem\u003emestice\u003c\/em\u003e or mixed-race woman on her way to church.   The woman is well dressed, she is walking and holding her fan.  Following immediately behind her, a male servant holds a long-handled parasol over the woman to protect her from the sun.  Behind them, a female servant carries the woman’s bible box and her spittoon, indicating that she indulges in chewing betel or areca nuts.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eWithin the collection of the Asian Civilisations Museum is an ivory bible box of similar book form shape which dates to the second half of the 18\u003csup\u003eth\u003c\/sup\u003e century.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cem\u003eProvenance:-   \u003c\/em\u003eEuropean Antiques Trade\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cem\u003eDimensions:-   \u003c\/em\u003eHeight  7  cms;  Width 18.8  cms  Depth 14  cms\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cem\u003eWeight:-  \u003c\/em\u003e        772  grammes\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cem\u003eAcknowledgement\u003c\/em\u003e:-  With grateful thanks to Jan Veenendaal for sharing his expertise.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cem\u003eReferences:-\u003c\/em\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eJan Veenendaal, Furniture from Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India During the Dutch Period, Pages 85 \u0026amp; 86, Foundation Volkenkundig Museum Nusantara, 1985.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eJacob Haafner, Reize in eenen palanquin; of lotgevallen en merkwaardige aanteekeningen op eene reize langs de kusten Orixa en Choromande, Amsterdam 1808\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eAsian Civilisations Museum, accession number 2016-00128\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eStarofmysore.com, February 2017, The Order of Gandaberunda\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eKelaniya Temple, Sri Lanka\u003c\/p\u003e"}

Antique Sri Lankan Silver Bible Box, Sri Lanka, Ceylon - Circa 1820

Product Description

This, particularly fine, antique silver bible box was made in Sri Lanka in the early 19th century during the years of British colonial rule.  The Dutch part of Ceylon was ceded to the British in 1802 with the whole island coming under British rule from 1815 until the island became independent in 1948.  The box would also interest collectors of Dutch Colonial and Batavian silverware.

The box has been finely crafted and ornamented using repousse and chased techniques in the traditional Sri Lankan style.  The ornament mainly consists of stylised floral and foliate elements but in the principal panel, to the cover of the box, there are some exceptionally sympathetic renderings of birds and animals with the stags being particularly noteworthy. This panel has been beautifully designed and is well balanced.  It depicts a vase overflowing with an abundance of luxuriant tropical flowers and foliage.  A stag stands at either side of the small vase facing towards thel vase and the stag on the opposite side of it.  This is probably a depiction of the Sri Lankan sambar deer which live in the lowland and mountain forests of Sri Lanka.  Deer are the protectors of the forest and in the Buddhist philosophy they also symbolise harmony, happiness, peace and longevity. 

In the branches above the vase, birds perch or fly through.  Above and directly in line with the vase, framed by foliage is a double headed or bicephalous bird.  Usually these are western symbols, encountered most often in heraldry, and the birds are eagles.  In the Indian subcontinent, the bird perhaps bears more resemblance to a goose and it is usually known as a gandaberunda.

This device was used as a symbol by the Wadiyar Dynasty of the Kingdom of Mysore from the 16th century and appeared on gold pagoda coins minted during the reign of Achyuta Deva Raya (1529–1542), a ruler of the South Indian Vijayanagara Empire, which was thought to be the first time a bicephalous bird was depicted on currency.  In 1892, the Order of Gandaberunda, was instituted by His Highness Sri Sir Chamarajendra Wadiyar, the 23rd Maharaja of Mysore.  This decoration was given by the ruler of Mysore and was viewed at the time by the British as slightly subversive and in defiance of British rule and the supremacy of the Queen Emperor.  After independence, the gandaberunda was adopted as the state symbol of Mysore.

Depictions of the gandaberunda can often be found within the ornamentation on Sri Lankan silverware and the bird features in stone carvings in the ancient and important Buddhist temple of Kelaniya (Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara), seven miles from Colombo.

This solid silver box has been made to reflect the traditional Dutch Colonial style which mimicked the form of the leather-bound bible it was made to contain; they are often referred to as Dutch Colonial bible boxes. Boxes of similar style were made in Sri Lanka, Batavia and Southern India for Dutch settlers.  These objects were for the upper echelons of society and they indicated the high social status of their owners.  Examples can be found within several prominent private and museum collections.  These boxes were made in a variety of materials, particularly in ivory, calamander wood or tortoiseshell, with silver, silver-gilt or gold fittings, whilst solid silver examples occur less frequently. Possibly, at one time, there were proportionately many more silver examples and it is not unlikely that a high percentage of these would have been melted down in the past, as fashions changed and so that the precious metal could be re-purposed.

The box is of complex construction; there are panels with undulating surfaces to the sides and to the back whilst the front features a combination of rectilinear and curvilinear surfaces.   It has a flap cover which is hinged at the point where the curved and ribbed spine and flat front cover of the bible would have met.  The edges of the cover have a shaped edge which is scalloped in part and straight in other parts, echoing the profiles of three sides.  A side view of the box reveals it to be of wedge shape, with the height of the box decreasing from the front to the exterior edge of the spine.  

The back of the box emulates the spine of a book.  The spine has a hemispherical profile and has been ornamented with alternating horizontal - if the ‘book’ were stood upright - bands of plain silver and ornamented silver.  The ornamented bands have been raised above the plain silver forming proud ribs. The sides which form the top and bottom of the book have been ornamented in a similar fashion.

The remaining side, which can be found to the front of the box, has five areas of repousse and chased ornamentation set against a plain silver background.  To the centre is a vacant cartouche of plain silver surrounded by ornamentation.  Its shape emulates a lock plate.  To far left and far right are vertical strips of a repeating border.  These have been carefully positioned and are set just a little way in from the corners, which allows the contrast between the areas of plain silver to either side.  To left and right are quatrefoils containing stylised floral sprays.  There is no ornamentation to the underside of the box and there are no silver marks.

Bible boxes were made to contain a small sized personal bible.  An 1808 engraving by Dutch artist, traveller and writer, Jacob Haafner (1754 - 1809) illustrates how they would have been used.  Amongst other things, Haafner wrote and illustrated five travel stories about his life and travels in Ceylon, India and South Africa. One of his illustrations shows the procession of a mestice or mixed-race woman on her way to church.   The woman is well dressed, she is walking and holding her fan.  Following immediately behind her, a male servant holds a long-handled parasol over the woman to protect her from the sun.  Behind them, a female servant carries the woman’s bible box and her spittoon, indicating that she indulges in chewing betel or areca nuts.

Within the collection of the Asian Civilisations Museum is an ivory bible box of similar book form shape which dates to the second half of the 18th century.

Provenance:-   European Antiques Trade

Dimensions:-   Height  7  cms;  Width 18.8  cms  Depth 14  cms

Weight:-          772  grammes

Acknowledgement:-  With grateful thanks to Jan Veenendaal for sharing his expertise.

References:-

Jan Veenendaal, Furniture from Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India During the Dutch Period, Pages 85 & 86, Foundation Volkenkundig Museum Nusantara, 1985.

Jacob Haafner, Reize in eenen palanquin; of lotgevallen en merkwaardige aanteekeningen op eene reize langs de kusten Orixa en Choromande, Amsterdam 1808

Asian Civilisations Museum, accession number 2016-00128

Starofmysore.com, February 2017, The Order of Gandaberunda

Kelaniya Temple, Sri Lanka

£11,000.00
Maximum quantity available reached.

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