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{"id":5591703486614,"title":"Antique Thai Silver Betel Leaf Holders, Gilt And Niello Decoration, Thailand (siam) – Mid-nineteenth Century","handle":"antique-thai-silver-betel-leaf-holders-gilt-and-niello-decoration-thailand-siam-mid-nineteenth-century","description":"\u003cp\u003eThese Thai silver baluster shaped betel leaf holders are of very similar size but with slightly differing ornamentation. The engraved gilt floral and foliate decoration on both vessels features designs derived from orchids and other indigenous plants, set against a contrasting black niello ground.  It is likely that each holder would have originally formed part of different luxurious betel sets, dating to the middle of the nineteenth century.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eA holder of very similar size, shape and ornamentation is included in a betel set held within the collection of Washington’s Smithsonian Institution. This set was received by President Pierce following an exchange of gifts to celebrate the Thai-American Treaty of 1856, known as the Harris Treaty.  King Mongkut and his brother, Phra Pin Klao, who was simultaneously a reigning Upparat (the Second King), each sent sets of gifts to President Pierce.  This very traditional Thai gift was one of the presents sent by Phra Pin Klao.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eThe word niello is the Italian form of the Latin word ‘nigellum’, meaning black.  Sir George Birdwood proposed the following definition for niello to accurately describe the process and distinguish it from similar arts such as bidri and enamelling:-\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cem\u003e“Niello is the process and the result of annealing (literally ‘blackening’ or ‘nielloing’) or fixing by fusion on a decoratively incised polished metal (usually silver but occasionally gold) surface, an opaque, black (non-mercurial) amalgam of silver, copper and lead.”\u003c\/em\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eThe actual process is quite difficult, laborious, highly unpleasant and dangerous, due to the noxious sulphurous fumes given off by the oven and the high firing temperatures involved.  Because of these difficulties, Indian and Burmese silversmiths did not produce Niello-wares very often but some Thai silversmiths specialised in this art.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eScholars cannot agree on where and when the technique of niello was invented and various theories abound as to its origins.  What they can agree on however, is that since ancient times there have been complex trade and cross-cultural interactions between the peoples of the Asian countries with those of the Indian sub-continent, the Middle East and the Mediterranean. Whether the niello technique was actually created in Thailand cannot be proven but this art was certainly popularised and perfected there.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eOn the Isthmus of Kra, the city of Nakhon Si Thammarat, also known as Ligor or Lagor, was the capital of the Tambralinga (Tampornling) kingdom and a principal production centre and training centre for niello artists.  Niello wares made in Nakhon Si Thammarat were supplied to the courts of Ayutthaya and Bangkok. The Thai words used to refer to nielloware are khruang thom.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eHistorical evidence from Thailand shows that the first recorded instance of nielloware can be found in ‘The Royal Family Laws’, written between 1448 and 1488.  One of these laws, known as ‘The Three Seals Law’, states that “a land holding nobleman in the 10,000-order rank was entitled to govern a city and to hold a black Niello-ware ceremonial pedestal and tray to show his official rank”.  Importantly, niello was used to signify the owner’s high rank and important status. The association between niello and high status continued in Thailand until recent times with fine niello objects considerd as suitable gifts for Thai and foreign kings, the nobility and visiting foreign dignitaries.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cstrong\u003e\u003cem\u003eProvenance:\u003c\/em\u003e\u003c\/strong\u003e       UK Private Collection\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cstrong\u003e\u003cem\u003eSize:\u003c\/em\u003e\u003c\/strong\u003e                       Height:  10.5 cms, Width: 10 cms\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cstrong\u003e\u003cem\u003eWeight:\u003c\/em\u003e\u003c\/strong\u003e                 336 grammes (combined weight)\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cstrong\u003e \u003c\/strong\u003e\u003cem\u003e\u003cstrong\u003eReferences:\u003c\/strong\u003e\u003c\/em\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cem\u003eThe Smithsonian Institution, Washington, Department of Anthropology, catalogue number E58\u003c\/em\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cem\u003eHarry Tilley, ‘The Silverwork of Burma’, Rangoon: The Superintendent, Government Printing Burma, 1902, pps 12-13.\u003c\/em\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e","published_at":"2020-08-09T17:09:57+01:00","created_at":"2020-08-09T17:09:56+01:00","vendor":"Joseph Cohen Antiques","type":"Betel Leaf Holders","tags":["Sold Archive"],"price":0,"price_min":0,"price_max":0,"available":false,"price_varies":false,"compare_at_price":null,"compare_at_price_min":0,"compare_at_price_max":0,"compare_at_price_varies":false,"variants":[{"id":35685909790870,"title":"Default Title","option1":"Default Title","option2":null,"option3":null,"sku":"","requires_shipping":true,"taxable":true,"featured_image":null,"available":false,"name":"Antique Thai Silver Betel Leaf Holders, Gilt And Niello Decoration, Thailand (siam) – Mid-nineteenth Century","public_title":null,"options":["Default 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Thai silver baluster shaped betel leaf holders are of very similar size but with slightly differing ornamentation. The engraved gilt floral and foliate decoration on both vessels features designs derived from orchids and other indigenous plants, set against a contrasting black niello ground.  It is likely that each holder would have originally formed part of different luxurious betel sets, dating to the middle of the nineteenth century.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eA holder of very similar size, shape and ornamentation is included in a betel set held within the collection of Washington’s Smithsonian Institution. This set was received by President Pierce following an exchange of gifts to celebrate the Thai-American Treaty of 1856, known as the Harris Treaty.  King Mongkut and his brother, Phra Pin Klao, who was simultaneously a reigning Upparat (the Second King), each sent sets of gifts to President Pierce.  This very traditional Thai gift was one of the presents sent by Phra Pin Klao.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eThe word niello is the Italian form of the Latin word ‘nigellum’, meaning black.  Sir George Birdwood proposed the following definition for niello to accurately describe the process and distinguish it from similar arts such as bidri and enamelling:-\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cem\u003e“Niello is the process and the result of annealing (literally ‘blackening’ or ‘nielloing’) or fixing by fusion on a decoratively incised polished metal (usually silver but occasionally gold) surface, an opaque, black (non-mercurial) amalgam of silver, copper and lead.”\u003c\/em\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eThe actual process is quite difficult, laborious, highly unpleasant and dangerous, due to the noxious sulphurous fumes given off by the oven and the high firing temperatures involved.  Because of these difficulties, Indian and Burmese silversmiths did not produce Niello-wares very often but some Thai silversmiths specialised in this art.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eScholars cannot agree on where and when the technique of niello was invented and various theories abound as to its origins.  What they can agree on however, is that since ancient times there have been complex trade and cross-cultural interactions between the peoples of the Asian countries with those of the Indian sub-continent, the Middle East and the Mediterranean. Whether the niello technique was actually created in Thailand cannot be proven but this art was certainly popularised and perfected there.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eOn the Isthmus of Kra, the city of Nakhon Si Thammarat, also known as Ligor or Lagor, was the capital of the Tambralinga (Tampornling) kingdom and a principal production centre and training centre for niello artists.  Niello wares made in Nakhon Si Thammarat were supplied to the courts of Ayutthaya and Bangkok. The Thai words used to refer to nielloware are khruang thom.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003eHistorical evidence from Thailand shows that the first recorded instance of nielloware can be found in ‘The Royal Family Laws’, written between 1448 and 1488.  One of these laws, known as ‘The Three Seals Law’, states that “a land holding nobleman in the 10,000-order rank was entitled to govern a city and to hold a black Niello-ware ceremonial pedestal and tray to show his official rank”.  Importantly, niello was used to signify the owner’s high rank and important status. The association between niello and high status continued in Thailand until recent times with fine niello objects considerd as suitable gifts for Thai and foreign kings, the nobility and visiting foreign dignitaries.\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cstrong\u003e\u003cem\u003eProvenance:\u003c\/em\u003e\u003c\/strong\u003e       UK Private Collection\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cstrong\u003e\u003cem\u003eSize:\u003c\/em\u003e\u003c\/strong\u003e                       Height:  10.5 cms, Width: 10 cms\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cstrong\u003e\u003cem\u003eWeight:\u003c\/em\u003e\u003c\/strong\u003e                 336 grammes (combined weight)\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cstrong\u003e \u003c\/strong\u003e\u003cem\u003e\u003cstrong\u003eReferences:\u003c\/strong\u003e\u003c\/em\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cem\u003eThe Smithsonian Institution, Washington, Department of Anthropology, catalogue number E58\u003c\/em\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cem\u003eHarry Tilley, ‘The Silverwork of Burma’, Rangoon: The Superintendent, Government Printing Burma, 1902, pps 12-13.\u003c\/em\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e"}

Antique Thai Silver Betel Leaf Holders, Gilt And Niello Decoration, Thailand (siam) – Mid-nineteenth Century

Product Description

These Thai silver baluster shaped betel leaf holders are of very similar size but with slightly differing ornamentation. The engraved gilt floral and foliate decoration on both vessels features designs derived from orchids and other indigenous plants, set against a contrasting black niello ground.  It is likely that each holder would have originally formed part of different luxurious betel sets, dating to the middle of the nineteenth century.

A holder of very similar size, shape and ornamentation is included in a betel set held within the collection of Washington’s Smithsonian Institution. This set was received by President Pierce following an exchange of gifts to celebrate the Thai-American Treaty of 1856, known as the Harris Treaty.  King Mongkut and his brother, Phra Pin Klao, who was simultaneously a reigning Upparat (the Second King), each sent sets of gifts to President Pierce.  This very traditional Thai gift was one of the presents sent by Phra Pin Klao.

The word niello is the Italian form of the Latin word ‘nigellum’, meaning black.  Sir George Birdwood proposed the following definition for niello to accurately describe the process and distinguish it from similar arts such as bidri and enamelling:-

“Niello is the process and the result of annealing (literally ‘blackening’ or ‘nielloing’) or fixing by fusion on a decoratively incised polished metal (usually silver but occasionally gold) surface, an opaque, black (non-mercurial) amalgam of silver, copper and lead.”

The actual process is quite difficult, laborious, highly unpleasant and dangerous, due to the noxious sulphurous fumes given off by the oven and the high firing temperatures involved.  Because of these difficulties, Indian and Burmese silversmiths did not produce Niello-wares very often but some Thai silversmiths specialised in this art.

Scholars cannot agree on where and when the technique of niello was invented and various theories abound as to its origins.  What they can agree on however, is that since ancient times there have been complex trade and cross-cultural interactions between the peoples of the Asian countries with those of the Indian sub-continent, the Middle East and the Mediterranean. Whether the niello technique was actually created in Thailand cannot be proven but this art was certainly popularised and perfected there.

On the Isthmus of Kra, the city of Nakhon Si Thammarat, also known as Ligor or Lagor, was the capital of the Tambralinga (Tampornling) kingdom and a principal production centre and training centre for niello artists.  Niello wares made in Nakhon Si Thammarat were supplied to the courts of Ayutthaya and Bangkok. The Thai words used to refer to nielloware are khruang thom.

Historical evidence from Thailand shows that the first recorded instance of nielloware can be found in ‘The Royal Family Laws’, written between 1448 and 1488.  One of these laws, known as ‘The Three Seals Law’, states that “a land holding nobleman in the 10,000-order rank was entitled to govern a city and to hold a black Niello-ware ceremonial pedestal and tray to show his official rank”.  Importantly, niello was used to signify the owner’s high rank and important status. The association between niello and high status continued in Thailand until recent times with fine niello objects considerd as suitable gifts for Thai and foreign kings, the nobility and visiting foreign dignitaries.

Provenance:       UK Private Collection

Size:                       Height:  10.5 cms, Width: 10 cms

Weight:                 336 grammes (combined weight)

 References:

The Smithsonian Institution, Washington, Department of Anthropology, catalogue number E58

Harry Tilley, ‘The Silverwork of Burma’, Rangoon: The Superintendent, Government Printing Burma, 1902, pps 12-13.

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