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Mirror

India, 17th century
Jade, kundan gold, emerald, garnets and rubies, red translucent enamel
H. 19 cm; W. 11 cm
Musée du Louvre, DAI, acquired in 1922
R. 451

The sheet of jade which was added to form the back of this mirror is decorated with two birds, possibly parrots, perched on the branches of a plant in the square-shaped central part; two red fruits hang from the top leaves of each of the branches; the lower part of the composition is gently balanced by two floral tufts, the upper part by two small tchi clouds. This assembly of non-realistic shapes is executed in gold, green emerald and red ruby. The animal and floral motifs are reminiscent of the margins that embellish Mughal pages of calligraphy, and the colors are also circled in gold in the same way.
The astonishing suppleness of the setting is due to the use of the technique known as kundan developed by Indian goldsmiths. It consists in hammering and folding refined 24-carat gold into a foil until it becomes extremely tacky and pliable at room temperature and can be crafted into the most extraordinary forms under the pressure of a metal tool; in this way, gold partitions can be formed which are supple enough to use as setting for even the smallest stones. Mastery of this extraordinary technique conferred a virtually total freedom on Mughal goldsmiths, liberating them almost entirely from the constraints of the material they worked with.

Mirror
Mirror
R. 451
© RMN / Blot