Turkey, End of 18th - early 19th Century, Length: 31.4 cm.

An Ottoman coral and lapis lazuli-set hand mirror, set with drop-shaped turquoise beads and round some lapis lazuli and blue-coloured beads between inlaid coral decoration. The mirror is designed in the form of a stylized carnation. Mirors were popular among the Ottoman elite and in fact a collection of such items is preserved in the Topkapı Palace. A number of mirrors preserved in the collection of the Topkapi Palace Museum were exhibited 17th October 1998 - 17th January 1999. Please see: Filiz Cagman, Sultanlarin Aynalari, Exhibition Catalogue, Topkapi Palace Museum, Istanbul, 1998. This mirror is remarkable for its extensive use of coral which was brought from the Red Sea. Lapis Lazuli was sourced from further East, Iran and Afghanistan. The Ottoman elite acquired a taste for using precious objects set with precious and/or semi-precious material primarily from the Byzantines who were famed for producing ceremonial objects with this particular decoration. At a later stage the Safavids also produced palatial objects set with precious stones, particularly turquoise. The present mirror is a very interesting example with its typically Ottoman, “carnation” form. The sides of the upper mirror part are decorated with finely incised scrolls. It is a rare example of this type displaying the taste of an Ottoman lady living in the 19th century.

Provenance: Private Swiss Collection



Turkey, 18th Century, Height: 21 cm.

With pointed tops, bodies with two handles, resting on square base on four legs, the pair displays a high level of design and craftsmanship with intricate silver filigree work, mounted with coral and turquoise. In both, the body form is unusual and attention to detail is remarkable. An 18th century Ottoman incense- burner, with identical, high quality filigree work, is in the Heritage Museum, Saint Petersburg. A similar rosewater-sprinklers and incense- burner set is in the Topkapi Palace Museum collections, donated to the Mausoleum of Prophet Muhammad, in Medina, by Khedive Abbas Hilmi Pasha (1816-1854). Please see: Istanbul – The City and the Sultan, De Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam, 2006, p. 92. Coral-set objects were highly favoured and sought after by the Ottoman elite, during the 18th century. This particular aesthetic was possibly inspired by an earlier taste for ruby and emerald-set gold, rock-crystal courtly objects and Chinese
porcelains decorated in Ottoman palace workshops, especially favoured during the 16th century. The practise of decorating objects by setting precious stones can be traced back to Byzantine art, particularly for jem-set icons and reliquary. The design very original and the silver filigree work is of extremely high quality. The only comparative 18th century Ottoman incense-burner, displaying similar high quality filigree work, is in the Heritage Museum, Saint Petersburg.

Provenance: Private UK Collection


Rare Ottoman Enamelled Rose-Water Sprinkler

Turkey 18th/19th century - Height: 12 cm

Of bulbous form with low footring with screw-fitted narrow cylindrical neck, decorated with polychrome enamels depicting floral bouquets between foliate gilt bands. Enamelled objects such as bowls, covered dishes, rosewater sprinklers, mastic-holders were increasingly fashionable among the Ottoman elite. Especially during the 18th and 19th centuries these objects played an important role in the daily lives of the members of the Ottoman upper classes both with their practical uses and decorative values. It is a rare, miniature rosewater sprinkler probably produced for a lady.

Provenance: The Collection of Argine Benaki Salvago

Rare Ottoman Enamelled Rose-Water Sprinklermagnifing glass


Turkey, Early 19th Century, Dimensions: 4.5 x 2.2 cm.

Each of pendent design, the surmount set with a pear-shaped diamond, hanging from tied, stylized bands, set with pear and cushion-shaped rosecut diamonds. These earrings belong to a small group of 19th century Ottoman jewellery produced for distinguished ladies from the ruling class and families close to the Ottoman palace. For a comparable Ottoman rose cut diamond brooch from the Topkapi Palace Museum collection please see Gül İrepoğlu’s Imperial Ottoman Jewellery, BKG Publications, Istanbul, 2012, p. 266, fig. 268. For Ottoman jewellery with rose-cut diamonds with similar craftsmanship from the collection of Sultan Abdulhamid II (r. 1876-1909), please see Les Bijoux de S. M. Le Sultan Abdulhamid II, fig. 65-66, catalogue of an auction held in Hotel Drouot, Paris, between 4-11 December 1911.

Provenance: Private UK Collection


An Impressive Ottoman Palatial Gold Box Decorated With Diamonds And The Tughra Of Sultan Abdulhamid II (R. 1876-1909)

Turkey - Length: 9.4 cm - Width: 5.3 cm - Weight: 135 gr

Presented by Sultan Abdülhamid II (r. 1876-1909) to Rear Admiral Charles H. Baldwin (1822-1888), U.S. Commander of the Mediterranean Squadron in 1883.

Rounded rectangular, the cover applied with diamond strapwork border, centering cartouches engraved with foliate scrolls and applied with a diamond-set tughra of Sultan Abdülhamid II (r. 1876-1909), the base engraved with foliate strapwork and central cartouche enclosing fruit and flowers, the cover with hinge clasp.

The tughra located on the cover of the present box is the stylised calligraphic representation of the name and titles of the Ottoman sultans. Tughras were primarily employed on coins, seals and official sultanic decrees, and endowment documents. Its application on a work of art indicates palatial background and royal patronage. Regalia and royal gifts from the Ottoman palace presented to distinguished foreigners as diplomatic gifts or mementos of friendship were also adorned with the imperial monogram. A comparable palatial object similarly adorned with the tughra of Mahmud II (r. 1808-1839) - is an enamelled hanging ornament, preserved in the Imperial treasury of the Topkapı Palace Museum (inv. no. 7616). Another ceremonial pendant bearing the tughra of Sultan Selim III (r.1789-1808) is also is in the Imperial Ottoman treasury. For the illustrations of both please see: Topkapı – the Treasury, 1987, pl. 13-14, p.189. Orders and medals granted to individuals for their remarkable achievements were also decorated with the tughra of the reigning sultan, please see: Topkapı Palace – The Imperial Treasury, 2001, pp. 93-95. The box in hand, besides its very high artistic value, is historically important, documenting the background of Ottoman diplomatic gifts underthe reign of Sultan Abdülhamid II.

Rear Admiral Charles H. Baldwin (d. 1888)

Born in New York City, Baldwin joined the Navy on April 24, 1839, and served as a midshipman aboard the frigate Brandywine (1839–40) and the sloop Fairfield (1840–43) in the Mediterranean Squadron, before returning to the U.S. aboard the sloop Vandalia in 1843 to attend the Naval School at Philadelphia, graduating with the rank of passed midshipman on July 2, 1845. He served through the Mexican–American War on the frigate Congress in the Pacific Squadron, serving on operations around Mazatlán, during the time that it was occupied by U.S. naval forces between November 1847 to June 1848. He received his commission as lieutenant in November 1853, but left the Navy on February 28, 1854.

Baldwin re-entered the naval service in 1861, on the outbreak of the Civil War, with the rank of acting-lieutenant. In February 1862 he commissioned the steamer Clifton, and sailed from New York to Ship Island for duty with the Mortar Flotilla of the West Gulf Blockading Squadron. In April, during the Battle of Forts Jackson and St. Philip, Clifton towed 21 mortar schooners into the Mississippi River, and supported them as they bombarded the fortifications below New Orleans. The next month, after the capture of the city, the ship sailed upriver to Vicksburg, Mississippi, where it was damaged by enemy gunfire. Baldwin was promoted to commander in November 1862, given command of the steamer Vanderbilt in early 1863 and ordered to hunt down the notorious Confederate commerce raider CSS Alabama. Over the next year Baldwin took his ship to the West Indies, the eastern coast of South America, the Cape of Good Hope, St. Helena, Cape Verde, the Canary Islands, Spain and Portugal, but his quarry always eluded him, sometimes only by a few hours. During the voyage Vanderbilt also served as the flagship of Commodore Charles Wilkes Flying Squadron in the West Indies, and captured several British blockade runners, including the Peterhoff.

Baldwin eventually returned to New York in January 1864 without ever having sighted the Confederate vessel. He was then assigned to ordnance duty, serving at the Mare Island Navy Yard in California until 1867. He returned to sea as the Fleet Captain of the North Pacific Squadron in 1868-9, and received promotion to the rank of captain in 1869. He then served as the Inspector of Ordnance at Mare Island from 1869–71, and commanded the frigate Colorado, flagship of the Asiatic Squadron in 1871- 73. He was commander of the Naval Rendezvous (recruitment station) at San Francisco in 1873, and was commissioned as commodore on August 8, 1876, serving as a Member of the Board of Examiners from 1876-79. In early 1883 Baldwin was promoted to rear admiral, and assumed command of the European Squadron on 10 March. He then sailed to Kronstadt in his flagship Lancaster, and on 27 May he and his staff attended the coronation of Tsar Alexander III in Moscow. He passed away in 1888.

Provenance: Private U.S. Collection

An Impressive Ottoman Palatial Gold Box Decorated With Diamonds And The Tughra Of Sultan Abdulhamid II (R. 1876-1909)magnifing glass


Important and Rare Ottoman Gold Pocket-Watch Signed Mehmet Sukri, Made for Mehmed Rasim Pasha, Presented to Sir Austen Henry Layard by Sultan Abdülhamid II

Turkey, 19th century

Signed in Ottoman Turkish: "Eser-i Mehmed Sükri min telamiz-i Ahmed Dede" (Work of Mehmed Sükri, one of Ahmed Dede's disciples).
Owner's name inscribed in Ottoman Turkish: "Sahibi Mehmed Rasim (Pasha)" (Owned by Mehmed Rasim Pasha).
The dedicatory on the rim in English reads: "Presented to Sir Henry Layard by the Sultan, 1879".

Mehmed Sükri Efendi was one of the leading Turkish clockmakers of the 19th century and was said to be the favoured student of the master clockmaker Eflaki Ahmed Dede, who was clockmaker to Sultan Mahmud II (r.1808-39). An identical gold pocket watch by Mehmed Sükri is in the Topkapi Palace Museum [Inv. No.2/7659]. The Topkapi watch was produced in 1874, for Amir al-Sharif Ali al-Jabir, grandfather of Al-Sharif Abdulmajid Khayadar, whose wife Rukiye Sultan, daughter of Sultan Abdülmecid (r.1839-61), presented it to the museum. One of six clocks produced by him is in the Dolmabahçe Palace [Inv. no. 49/5] and the other four in the Topkapi Palace Museum [Inv. 16/1543, 2/6540, 2/6533, 2/7147].

The first owner of this watch "Mehmed Rasim" could be Dr. Mehmed Rasim Pasha, one of the founders of the Turkish Medical School (Tibbiye) and father of renowned painter Mihri Müsfik (d.1954). It is certain that Mehmed Rasim Pasha, the first owner of the pocket-watch , and Sultan Abdülhamid II both agreed in presenting the watch to Sir Henry Layard as a souvenir.

As stated on the rim of the pocket-watch, Sultan Abdülhamid II (r.1876-1909) presented it to Sir Henry Layard in 1879, two years after he was appointed ambassador in Istanbul. Layard was born in Paris, France, to a family of Huguenot descent. His father, Henry PJ Layard, of the Ceylon Civil Service, was the son of Charles Peter Layard, dean of Bristol, and grandson of Daniel Peter Layard, the physician. Through his mother, a daughter of Nathaniel Austen, banker, of Ramsgate, he was partly of Spanish descent. Much of Layard's boyhood was spent in Italy, where he received part of his schooling, and aquired a taste for the fine arts. After spending nearly six years in the office of his uncle, Benjamin Layard, he left for Ceylon with the prospect of obtaining an appointment in the civil service. After wandering for many months, chiefly in Persia, and having abandoned his intention of proceeding to Ceylon, he returned in 1842 to Constantinople, where he made the acquaintance of Sir Stratford Canning, the British Ambassador, who employed him in various unofficial diplomatic missions in European Turkey. In 1845, encouraged and assisted by Canning, Layard left Constantinople to make explorations among the ruins of Assyria with which his name is cheifly associated. During his former travels in the East, his curiosity had been greatly excited by the ruins of Nimrud on the Tigris, and by the great mound of Kuyunjik, near Mosul, already partly excavated by Paul-Emile Botta. Layard remained in the neighbourhood of Mosul, carrying on excavations at Kuyunjik and Nimrud, and investigating the condition of various peoples until 1847. He returned to England in 1848, where he published Nineveh and its Remains (2 vols., 1848-9).

After spending a few months in England, and receiving the degree of D.C.L from the University of Oxford, Layard returned to Constantinople as attaché to the British Embassy, and, in August 1849, started on a second expedition, in the course of which he extended his investigations to the ruins of Babylon and the mounds of southern Mesopotamia. He is credited with discovering the Library of Ashurbanipal during this period. His record of this expedition, Discoveries in the Ruins of Nineveh and Babylon, was illustrated by another folio volume, called A Second Series of the Monuments of Nineveh, published in 1853. During these expeditions Layard dispatched to England the splendid specimens which now form the greater part of the collection of Assyrian antiquities in the British Museum.

During 1866 Layard founded "Compagnia Venezia Murano" and opened a Venetian glass showroom in London at 431 Oxford Street. Today Pauly & C.-Compagnia Venezia Murano is one of the most important brands of Venetian art glass production. In 1866 Layard was appointed a trustee of the British Museum before turning to politics. Elected as a Liberal member for Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire in 1852, he was for a few weeks Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs, but afterwards freely criticised the government, especially in connection with army administration. He was present in the Crimea during the war, and was a member of the committee appointed to inquire into the conduct of the expedition. In 1855 he refused from Lord Palmerston an office not connected with foreign affairs, was elected lord rector of Aberdeen University, and on June 15 moved a resolution in the House of Commons (defeated by a large majority) declaring that in public appointments merit had been sacrificed to private influence and an adherence to routine. After being defeated at Aylesbury in 1857, he visited India to investigate the causes of Mutiny. He unsuccessfully contested York in 1859, but was elected for Southwark in 1860, and from 1861 to 1866 was Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs in the successive administrations of Lord Palmerston and Lord John Russell. After the Liberals returned to office in 1868 under William Ewart Gladstone, Layard was made First Commissioner of Works and sworn of the Privy Council.

Layard resigned from office in 1869, on being sent as envoy extraordinary to Madrid. In 1877 he was appointed by Lord Beaconsfield Ambassador at Constantinople, where he remained until Gladstone's return to power in 1880, and where he finally retired from public life. In 1878, on the occasion of the Berlin Congress, he was appointed a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath. Layard retired to Venice, where he devoted much of his time to collecting pictures of the Venetian school, and to writing on Italian art. In 1887 he published, from notes taken at the time, a record of his first journey to the East, entitled Early Adventures In Persia, Susiana and Babylonia. An abbreviation of this work was published in 1894, shortly after the author's death, with a brief introductory notice by Lord Aberdare. He died in London.

Important and Rare Ottoman Gold Pocket-Watch Signed Mehmet Sukri, Made for Mehmed Rasim Pasha, Presented to Sir Austen Henry Layard by Sultan Abdülhamid IImagnifing glass


Rare And Important Ottoman Gem-set And Jade Mirror

Turkey - Late 17th / Early 18th century - Length: 22.3 cm

The mirror within a silver-gilt setting decorated with colourful gemstones, including rubies, emeralds, turquoise and pearls between embossed motifs, the reverse with a jade flowerhead in the centre encrusted with fine silver-gilt leafy stems and gemstones, on a carved jade handle. This extremely ornate mirror is a remarkable example of the Ottoman taste for luxury, in which objects of daily use were embellished with expensive materials, notably the inclusion of gem-set jade worked within a gilt setting. Most probably commissioned for a lady of wealth and rank, this mirror can be compared with similarly decorated mirrors in the Topkapi Palace Museum dated to the sixteenth/seventeenth century. Please see Topkapi Palace – The Imperial Treasury, 2001, p. 99. Also see; Harem - House of the Sultan, 2012, pp. 240-243. 

Provenance: Private UK Collection

Rare And Important Ottoman Gem-set And Jade Mirrormagnifing glass


Extremely Rare Imperial Ottoman Jade Archer’s Ring (Zihgir) Decorated With Emeralds And Diamonds

Turkey - 16th Century - Length: 4.7 cm

This zihgir, which was worn on the thumb of the right hand of the archer to provide protection as well as to smooth the way for the bow, was an important functional item of imperial jewellery. This ring belongs to a rare group of high quality Ottoman hardstone carvings made for the hazine, the Treasury of the Sultans. The group consists of personal as well as ceremonial items that include tankards, bowls, drinking vessels and pen cases, as well as plaques for attachment to swords, saddles and horse trappings. A gem-set tankard of this type was recently acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum (inv. no. ME.5-2011, and for further examples, see E. Atil, The Age of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent, Exhibition Catalogue, National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. 25th January-17th May, 1987, pp.113-175). Robert Skelton describes how this technique was achieved in his seminal paper on Ottoman jades: “the gems were not set into the jade but were in small cylinders of gold rising from circular plaques of gold foil on the surface of the stone. Thus each gem and its enclosing sheath of gold is like the calyx of a small flower and the effect is confirmed by the connecting stems and small leaves with engraved veins which form a net over the surface of the stone. These stems and leaves are stiffly formalised and the gems are disposed over the surface fairly closely at regular intervals so that the total effect is very rich and stylised.” (Robert Skelton, 'Characteristics of later Turkish jade carving' in Proceedings of the Fifth International Congress of Turkish Art, Budapest, 1978, p.796). A portrait of Mehmed the Conqueror smelling a rose, attributed to Shiblizade Ahmed, clearly displays an archer's ring such as the present lot on the hand of the Sultan (Topkapi Palace Museum, TSM H 2153, folio 10a). A small group of similar archer's rings are preserved in the Topkapi Palace Museum treasury (Gul Irepoglu, Imperial Ottoman Jewellery, Istanbul, 2012, pp. 236-36, TSM inv. nos. 2/83, 2/76, 2/72, 2/88).

Provenance: Private UK Collection

Extremely Rare Imperial Ottoman Jade Archer’s Ring (Zihgir) Decorated With Emeralds And Diamondsmagnifing glass


Ottoman Ruby And Emerald-set Marine Ivory Spoons

Turkey - 18th / 19th Century - Height: 23.6 cm (each)

Two spoons, each carved from walrus tusk ivory, the handles with a diamond pattern, set with a ruby near the bowl, the top mounted with an emerald- and ruby-set palmette.

These spoons, made of exotic and expensive materials such as walrus tusk, ruby and emerald, should be regarded not only as utensils but also appreciated for their aesthetic value. They illustrate the Ottoman taste for refined and luxurious objects throughout all aspects of daily life. A pair of almost identical spoons are preserved in the Topkapi Palace Museum (inv. nos. 2/2497 and 2/2498, published in Atasoy 1992, p.204).

A comparable 18th century Ottoman spoon, decorated with choral is in the Sadberk Hanim Museum in Istanbul, see Hülya Bilgi, Asırlar Sonra Bir Arada – Sadberk Hanım Müzesi’nin Yurtdışından Türkiye’ye Kazandırdığı Eserler, Vehbi Koç Vakfı, 2005, p. 214-215. A collection of similar spoons are preserved in the treasury of the Topkapi Palace Museum. Please see J. M. Rogers’ The Topkapi Saray Museum: The Treasury, London, 1987, fig. 114a. Here Professor Rogers states ‘most of those illustrated are specimens from large sets used by the viziers at their meetings in the Divan (the Kubbealtı [the imperial council]) or by the ladies of the Harem for compots of dry fruits (hoşaf). All are Eighteenth century or later. A few smaller spoons in the Hazine (treasury) collection have pointed oval bowls and various styles of decoration which have parallels in Western European High Renaissance cutlery, suggesting that they are probably of similar date.’

Provenance: Private UK Collection

Ottoman Ruby And Emerald-set Marine Ivory Spoonsmagnifing glass


Princely Ottoman Ivory Pipe With Tophane Pipe-bowl

Turkey - 19th Century - Tophane pipe-bowl with gilt-copper (Tombak) mounts - Length: 166 cm

The present pipe is an extremely rare example of the Ottoman art of pipe-making. The pipe, which consists of three adjustable pieces, is carved from single ivory tusk. In Ottoman art, ivory was favoured and continously used to carve single objects or decorative elements which were later applied on different media, particularly palace furniture, woodwork and ceremonial/luxury objects. Carving an ivory pipe, with its narrow, straight and long body, and given the concave shape of a tusk, must have been a formidable task. The third and last section ends with a mouth-piece. Featuring a very unusual construction, the main body of the pipe-bowl, which is made of Tophane clay (terracotta) is covered with a layer of gilt copper (Tombak). This particular format must have been executed on special order since recording the patron’s name would have been impossible without it. Maror, probably the name of the patron, is incised on the bottom of the pipe bowl. The pipe is a truly rare example of its kind both in terms of its size, material and execution. A similar Ottoman pipe, smoked by French Ambassador Charles Gravier wearing Turkish costume, in a painting by Antoine de Favray, is published in Kesişen Dünyalar – Elçiler ve Ressamlar, Pera Müzesi, 2014, p. 86. The present pipe is a truly remarkable example of the art of Ottoman ivory carving and Tophane-ware, both in terms of its artistic value and perfect condition.

Provenance: Private Belgian Collection

Princely Ottoman Ivory Pipe With Tophane Pipe-bowlmagnifing glass


An Ottoman Pen-case (Kubur) Decorated With Mother Of Pearl

Turkey - First Half of the 18th Century - Height: 23.3 cm

Decorated with mother of pearl and jade with ruby finial. This cylindrical pen-case is made of paste-board, and the outside is covered with an imbricated pattern of mother of pearl with gilt bands. The paste-board sliding inside the cover is decorated with gold bands, shams motifs and stylized flower motifs on black.

Comparative pen-cases decorated with mother of pearl are preserved in the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum, Istanbul (inv. nos. 4038 and 4040). The second one in the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum is published in Garo Kurkman’s Osmanlı Gümüş Damgaları (Ottoman Silver Marks), İstanbul, 1996, 163. Another similar pen-case is in the Khalili Collection, London, see: Empire of the Sultans, London, 1995, p. 170. A calligrapher’s box, similarly decorated with mother of pearl is in the Sadberk Hanim Museum in Istanbul, see Hülya Bilgi, Asırlar Sonra Bir Arada – Sadberk Hanım Müzesi’nin Yurtdışından Türkiye’ye Kazandırdığı Eserler, Vehbi Koç Vakfı, 2005, p. 168-169.

Provenance: Private UK Collection

An Ottoman Pen-case (Kubur) Decorated With Mother Of Pearlmagnifing glass


A Rare And Important Ottoman Jade Bowl

Turkey - 16th Century

Inscription in Ottoman Turkish:

Men lebün müştakıyem zühhad kevser talibi – Nitekim meste mey içmek hoş gelür hüşyare su

"I yearn for your lips – it is the pious who seek the River of Paradise.
After all, for the inebriated it is wine which is soothing – for the sober, water will do."

This couplet is taken from the Su Kasidesi or "Ode to Water", a masterpiece of classical Ottoman poetry composed by the court poet Fuzuli (d.1556). It is a panegyric to the Prophet Muhammad around the theme of the vitality of water with its rich allegorical and metaphorical allusions.

Islamic jade objects bearing poetic inscriptions are extremely rare. A comparable example can be found in the British Museum [inv.no.OA 1959 11-20 1] inscribed with the name of the Timurid ruler of Samarqand, Ulugh Beg Gurgan (d.1449). A second famous piece is the jug executed for the same patron, now preserved in the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation Collection, Lisbon [inv.no.328] (see Lentz and Lowry 1989, p.144). The closest prototype to the piece in hand, however, is the Timurid bowl in the Louvre [inv.no.MR 199] which features very similar decoration; its rim is similarly encircled by a poem inscribed in thuluth. The use of jade in royal circles under the Ottomans is rare, though the influence of Timurid art and decorative designs on Ottoman art was strong. This piece should therefore be regarded as an "archaistic" or "revivalist" object inspired by luxurious Timurid jades housed in the Ottoman treasury.

The carved three dots or cintamani on the base of the piece could be interpreted as a signature or possibly a registration or ownership mark. This sign can historically be linked to other jades which bear similar signs. The Timurid jade cup with a dragon-headed handle in the British Museum [ME 1961 2-13 1] for instance, bears a similar sign consisting of three dots located inside the lower part of the handle.

A Rare And Important Ottoman Jade Bowlmagnifing glass


Important Early Safavid Gold-set Jade Mirror Handle

Persia - 16th century - Length: 4.2 cm

Of slightly widening cylindrical form with pointed ridge below and flattened panel above, the surface very finely engraved and inlaid with spiralling gold tendrils, each leaf-motif also further worked within the gold design, the upper panel with scrolling motifs, slight loss to lower end, the upper end with later silver panel. This is a rare survival of Safavid jade craftsmanship of the 16th century. It is black jade inlaid with an overall design of gold arabesques. Very few objects exist with which to compare the present piece, but the closest and most impressive is a black jade jug in the Topkapi Saray Museum (inv no. 1844) inscribed with the name of Shah Isma’il (Canby, S.: The Golden Age of Persian Art, London, 1999, fig.14, p.27).

The body of this jug is covered with the same type of spiraling arabesques as the present handle. A similar decorative repertoire is seen one of the outstanding monuments of the period, the Harun-i Vilayat in Isfahan which was completed in 1512. Here the arabesques are rendered in tile mosaic in the spandrels in gold on blue ground (Sheila Canby, The Golden Age of Persian Art, London, 1999, fig.13, pp. 26-8). The jug is assumed to have entered the Ottoman treasury after the battle of Chaldiran, when the conquering Turkish army took a huge booty back to Istanbul. It is tempting to assume that this mirror handle was a part of a war loot. Along with the booty, the Ottomans took a thousand artisans with them to their capital.

Ottoman aesthetic was hugely influenced as a result and their craftsmen began to inlay gold into hardstones and ivory, producing in the mid sixteenth century some memorable weapons and other objets d'art. A second piece which features similarities with the mirror handle in hand is the jade bowl inlaid with gold leaf-motifs, now in the Louvre (inv. no. MR 194), published in Melikian-Chirvani, Assadullah Souren. Le Chant du Monde L’Art de l’Iran Safavide 1501-1736, Musee du Louvre, Paris, 2008, p. 234. A jade hilted dagger with similar decoration was sold in Christie’s London, in the Islamic Art and Manuscripts sale on 29 April 2003, lot. 85. A mirror with a comparable handle, from the Topkapi Palace Museum, is published in The Anatolian Civilisations – Seljuk/Ottoman, vol. III, Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism, 1983, p. 158.

Provenance: Ex-private UK collection

Important Early Safavid Gold-set Jade Mirror Handlemagnifing glass


Enamelled Pocket Watch Decorated With Pearls Produced For The Turkish Market

French - 19th Century - Diameter: 2.5 cm

Decorated with crescent and star, executed with embedded diamonds, over red enamelled background embellished with stars. The border is decorated with pearls.

Enamelled Pocket Watch Decorated With Pearls Produced For The Turkish Marketmagnifing glass