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TRANSLUCENT DHAL

Place of Origin: AHMEDABAD, INDIA

Date: 19th Century

Overall diameter: 540mm (21 ¼ inches)

Reference: 303

Status: Available

Full Description:

An Indian shield, or ‘dhal’ from Ahmedabad, Gujarat, with stunning centrally painted decoration.

This piece is formed of Indian elk hide and has been subject to “a process where hide shields are boiled in oil till they become transparent.”[1] (the shield is not transparent, but rather translucent when held to the light). The centre depicts a medallion of floral patterns painted in pink, yellow and green which is further decorated with concentric circles of dots flecked in gold and bordered by a gilt sunburst. The shield’s four gilt-copper bosses are chased to depict peonies and foliage, a small circle of green glass inset at the centre of each one. A textile base is also placed under each boss, so as not to wear against the shield’s surface. The ‘rays’ of the central sunburst are repeated just in front of the shield’s rim which depicts a continuous series of flowers enclosed by foliage at the sides and beaded lines above.

The reverse of the shield reveals another border containing a repeated floral pattern, the centre of the shield fixed with four iron loops for suspension as well as a red fabric cushion and still retaining some of the shield’s original brown velvet straps.

A similar shield was presented to the Prince of Wales 1875-76 by the Nawab of Balasinor, Bombay Presidency, and is currently preserved in the Royal Collection (RCIN: 38128).

 

[1] Robert Elgood (introduction), “Indian Art in Marlborough House” in Arms and Armour at Sandringham: The Indian Collection presented by the Princes, Chiefs and Nobles of India to H.R.H. the Prince of Wales on the occasion of his visit to India 1875-1876, London, 1910 (two volumes republished in facsimile editions, Ken Trotman Books, 2008).