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Scabbard mount

Scabbard mount

  • Place of origin:

    India (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Grey nephrite jade. Fashioned using abrasives and abrasive-charged tools.

  • Museum number:

    626-1874

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This scabbard mount, also known as a chape, is the piece that sits at the end of the scabbard to protect the tip of the blade and also to protect the wearer from accidental injury. It was made within the Mughal empire, probably in about 1700. It has been fashioned from a single piece of nephrite jade which is a hard and durable material that requires skill and patience to work successfully, especially when cavities have to be excavated. The quality of the workmanship as well as the material used indicate that it would have been used or destined for use on a scabbard belonging to a person of some means.

Physical description

A mount for the tip of a scabbard, fashioned in one piece in grey nephrite jade and with a polished exterior. It is a somewhat elongated kite shape with one of the long sides being gently concave and the other gently convex so that the tip tends to one side before curling into a scroll. In profile, it is wedge-shaped with the scroll tip being the narrow end of the wedge and from the open end, the profile is biconvex. The wedge has been hollowed out from the wider end to give an elongated cavity which extends down to near the tip. The opening has been shaped to give a three-scalloped edge to each face, with the central lobe being pointed to form the opposing corner to the scrolled tip. Both faces have been carved in low relief with the same design of a single flower at the tip of a stem which bears three pairs of leaves and the design lies within a narrow raised border at the margins of each face.

Place of Origin

India (made)

Materials and Techniques

Grey nephrite jade. Fashioned using abrasives and abrasive-charged tools.

Dimensions

Length: 56.0 mm, Width: 25.9 mm, Thickness: 11.75 mm, Thickness: 6.3 mm, Thickness: 1.8 and 1.9 mm

Object history note

This scabbard mount was acquired by William Tayler during his time in India (1829-1867). He subsequently sold it to the South Kensington Museum (later renamed the Victoria & Albert Museum) in 1874 for the sum of £1-0-0.

William Tayler was educated in England at Charterhouse and also spent a term at Christ Church, Oxford. He entered service with the East India Company on 30th April 1829, arriving in India in October of the same year. He held various posts in Bengal and was appointed Commissioner of Patna in 1855. During his service, he was able to acquire many objects, including hardstones, relating to the customs and religions of India as well as objects from other parts of South Asia.
He was criticised for his handling of the uprisings in Northern India and was moved to a lesser post before being suspended, ultimately resigning on 29th March 1859. He then practised as an advocate in the law courts of Bengal before returning to England in 1867.
He wrote a book about his experiences, entitled Thirty-eight Years in India, in which he states that "After my return to England, circumstances induced me, though with great reluctance, to part with the collection which is now in the South Kensington Museum".

Descriptive line

A scabbard mount for the tip (chape), grey nephrite jade, carved with flowers and leaves, scroll tip, India

Materials

Nephrite

Categories

Arms & Armour; Gemstones; Hardstone

Collection

South & South East Asia Collection

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