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Creator Nationality: Indian
Creator Dates/Places: India
Creator Active Place: India
Creator Name-CRT: India, Uttar of Madhya Pradesh, Shunga Period
Title: Triratna Pendant
Title Type: Primary
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: -18
Creation End Date: -7
Creation Date: 185-72 BC
Object Type: Costume and Jewelry
Classification Term: Jewelry
Materials and Techniques: gold
Dimensions: Overall: 5.7cm
AMICA Contributor: The Cleveland Museum of Art
Owner Location: Cleveland, Ohio, USA
ID Number: 1973.66.1
ID Number: 1973.66.2
ID Number: 1973.66.3
Credit Line: John L. Severance Fund
Style or Period: Shunga Period
Context: These necklace ornaments, a pivotal part of the larger hoard of gold from India, date to the Shunga period and have the distinction of representing the earliest gold jewelry surviving from this part of the world. Aside from these examples there is a pair of earrings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, but unlike the Cleveland pieces, which came from Uttar or Madhya Pradesh, the Metropolitan earrings are probably from Andhra Pradesh. The bead and pendants seen here were originally threaded, forming a necklace very much like the one depicted on the Shunga stone coping (see 1972.366). This type of necklace appeared in many other stone sculptures of the period, such as the famous yakshi (nature spirit) from Bharhut in the Indian Museum in Calcutta or yaksha from Pitalkhora in the National Museum in Delhi. The round center bead is decorated in the middle with a band of turtles, recalling Egyptian scarabs, and an intricate netting on the side with lotus flowers around the holes through which a necklace string was pulled. The two side pendants are in the triratna (three-jewels) shape, a common Buddhist symbol of the Shunga period as is the cross in the Christian tradition. It represents symbolically three segments of Buddhism: Buddha, its founder; Buddhist law (Dharma), and monastic order (Sangha). The symbol, while very popular in early Buddhism, disappears in later times. The repoussý technique and the extensive use of granulation work, done in 24-karat gold, are features used in early Indian jewelry, which shows close connections with the techniques prevalent in the Mediterranean world. The Alexandrian conquest of India in the late fourth century BC is the connection for such similarities. The granulation technique requires great skill, especially when the granules are very small, as is the case with these triratna pendants, particularly their background. Over that background the design of lotus flowers is imposed in larger granules. The technical difficulty arises when adhering the spheres to the sheet of gold. The Egyptians, for instance, were able to do it in such a way that almost all of the sphere remained above the surface of the base. The crucial element is controlling the heat applied to both parts--the gold sheet of the base and the granules--because excessive heat will melt the gold. Obviously the goldsmith responsible for these pieces of jewelry was an expert in matters of technique. S.C.
AMICA ID: CMA_.1973.66.1-3
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights:
Copyright, The Cleveland Museum of Art
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