SOAS University of London

Brunei Gallery, SOAS University of London

Gold Jewelry from Tibet and Nepal

10th December 1996 - 7th March 1997

The exhibition comprises items of gold jewelry which in many cases are embellished with pearls, turquoise, coral, rubies and other precious stones. The pieces were all made for personal adornement, be they earrings or amulet boxes. Photographs showing similar items being worn by either individuals or religious images accompany the exhibition.

In the Himalayas, jewelry was indicative of the social status and political power of the wearer. It also reflected the traditions of Buddhism and Hinduism. Within both these regions gems and jewelry were often regarded as metaphores for ideals of faith. The materials from which the objects were made were also believed to have healing properties. Gold was thought to have a range of restorative qualities in addition to increasing longevity and dispelling demons. Turquoise, pearls, coral and lapis lazuli were all invested with specific curative powers.

The objects in the exhibition are not only the products of two religious traditions, but of two, sometimes overlapping, cultures. Some of the material was produced by Tibetan craftsmen working in Tibet, some by Nepalese craftsmen working in Nepal, and some by Newars working in Tibet.