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19th Century Ornate Indian Koftgari Casket

19th Century Ornate Indian Koftgari Casket


Circa 1850 India

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Height 4 1/4 inches (10.79 cm)
Width 5 1/2 inches (13.97 cm)
Depth 3 3/4 inches (9.52 cm)

The steel sarcophagus form with fine, all-over Koftgari decoration in yellow gold. The hinged, tented lid with central buckle decoration a above a tapering body with ring handles to the sides and raised on braganza feet. Complete with original key.

Koftgari is the Indian form of damascening which closely resembles the damascening found in Persia and Syria. The inlay process begins after the piece is moulded and fully formed. The intended design is engraved into the base metal, in this case steel and fine silver or, in this case, gold wire is then hammered into the grooves.

The base metal is always a hard metal, either steel, iron or bronze, and the inlay a soft metal, either gold or silver. This combination prevents the base from deforming when the wire inlay is hammered into the surface and results in the inlaid areas being well defined and of sharp appearance.

Swords, shield and armour were often decorated in koftgari work and domestic items such as boxes and betel containers, were also made.

Reference 1419

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