In Asia jewelry has a very ancient history. In the Neolithic period in China, the ornament was already present in daily life and in grave goods as an indicator of high rank and as a protective object. In the IV millennium BC, plaques of jade, engraved with symbolic images of cicadas, dragons, turtles, covered the bodies to preserve them. Jade and gold have prodigious meanings. Jewel became an object of embellishment to give a more pleasing shape to the defensive material which, further decorated with auspicious symbols, assured protection and increased the individual potentialities.
Even in India the tradition of the jewellery begins in ancient times showing an extraordinary variety of models, processing techniques and symbologies that have marked all of the following types of jewellery. From bracelets that cover the entire forearm and the linear torque in images of Harappa and Moenjo Daro cultures (3500-2000 BC), to the elaborate and rich gold earrings of Taxila (II-IV century BC.) which combining cells to an exquisite granulation, they show the obvious stylistic and technical influence of the Roman and Greek culture, arrived in the East through the campaigns of Alexander the Macedonian, as well as the Central Asiatic Shiite influence. The sculptures of Sanchi and Amaravati (I-II century AD.) show the profusion of anklets and pearls necklaces and spacers, rings and bracelets. The frescoes of Ajanta (II-VII century AD.) exhibit low belts on the hips and sophisticated hairstyles.
When later in 1500 the Mughal emperors began to dominate India, they spread oriental jades and jewels of the Central Asiatic courts from where they came. The princely splendor of Maharajahs, Nawab, Nizam, reflected into the opulence of sumptuous jewelry. The goldsmith production reached incomparable levels of sophistication and splendor. Bracelets, amulets, rings, golden decorations for turban were studded with gems and embellished with polychrome enamel that, for their detail and refinement, had nothing to envy to the most refined Persian miniatures. The floral arabesques of the champlevé enamel wrapped jewels even in not visible parts. The friezes, copied on jade with a special technique of marquetry, created a style that influenced the entire Indian goldsmith fashion and more.
In the '20s the interest towards East swept across Europe. The European high society was conquered by the fabulous projection of the Eastern world. Orientalism, substitute of an unreachable East, became a source of inspiration for applied art and the oriental style was a leitmotif of Deco jewelry.
The opalescent jades, engraved emeralds and polychrome enamels were, in fact, inspired by Mughal art jewelry of the XVII-XVIII centuries, while Indian classical type of " Kashmir palm tree " or "bote", the drop shape with the tip folded down, is reflected in aigrette of the first decades of ‘900. Some traditional types of Indian jewelry inspired some themes that became "classics" in all Cartier production, such as bracelets ending with elephant and tiger heads, which in India were called kara, or the bold and innovative combination of blue sapphires and green emeralds, not coincidentally called “peacock motif”.
Autore: Cristina Del Mare
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