A carved ivory casket

circa 1600 AD, Sri Lanka

Dimensions: 18cm x 9cm x 15cm; 7.09 x 3.54 x 5.91 inches

The casket of rectangular form, standing on turned bun feet with a single drawer at the bottom held closed by an ivory pin on the inside, the cover of coffered form between arched sides mounted with silver handles. The outside finely carved with a profusion of floral, animal, mythological and figurative designs. The cover held in place on the inside by two elaborate engraved silver strap hinges, the outside of the lid carved with six roundels each containing a fantastical creature amongst scrolling leaves either side of two figurative pyramids in mirror image intertwined in acrobatic postures, all against a further scroll work ground. A similar figurative panel centred by a lock and key makes up the front above the drawer, while the sides are fully carved with a central stem issuing eight scrolling lotus flowers, four of which end with a bare chested female torso, the background enlivened by two parrots and two squirrels. The back consisting of a single panel with a central lotus flower from which scrolling stems radiate out with leaves and flowers amongst lions, birds and squirrels.


Spink London 1987.

Similar Examples

Elfenbeine aus Ceylon, Luxusguter fur Katharina von Habsburg 1507 1578, Museum Rietberg Zurich 2010. Front cover and figure 24.

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