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Scabbard mount

Scabbard mount

  • Place of origin:

    India (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Pale grey nephrite jade, fashioned by hand using abrasives and abrasive-charged tools.

  • Museum number:

    619-1874

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This scabbard mount, also known as a scabbard locket, is the piece that sits at the opening of the scabbard and which keeps the aperture readily accessible to receive the blade. It has been fashioned in India, probably in the early 19th century, from a single piece of nephrite jade which is a hard and durable material that is well-suited to the job of being in repeated contact with a steel blade and it 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 on a scabbard belonging to a person of some means.

Physical description

A scabbard throat, fashioned in one piece in pale grey nephrite jade, with a good polish. It is somewhat shield-shaped and the edges at the mouth have been shaped with two concave indents that meet in a central ridge. Around the sides, at the mouth, there is a raised ridge from which hangs a band of leaves and on each face there is suspended from the leaves, a flower and two buds, all carved in low relief. The edges of the sides at the lower end are scalloped, each with seven lobes and around this edge there is a fine, carved raised border. In end profile, the mount is biconvex with a central, elongated and wedge-shaped aperture at the mouth while at the opposite end, the aperture is an elongated oval. On one of the convex faces there is a small lug that has been drilled with a hole that runs perpendicular to the sides of the mount.

Place of Origin

India (made)

Materials and Techniques

Pale grey nephrite jade, fashioned by hand using abrasives and abrasive-charged tools.

Dimensions

Height: 37.0 mm, Length: 50.8 mm, Width: 19.3 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 £1-4-0.

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 throat, somewhat shield-shaped, grey nephrite jade, carved flower and leaf decoration, India

Materials

Nephrite

Categories

Arms & Armour; Gemstones; Hardstone

Collection

South & South East Asia Collection

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