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Box and cover

Box and cover

  • Place of origin:

    Lahore (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1850 (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Nephrite jade and gold, fashioned, pierced, carved and polished using abrasives and abrasive-charged tools.

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This perforated jade covered box was sent to the Great Exhibition of 1851 at London's Crystal Palace where it was described as being of 'modern' manufacture, and from Lahore. The technical skills needed to create it were the same as those used during the 17th and 18th centuries in the Mughal empire of which Lahore was the northern capital. The two parts have each been expertly fashioned from a single piece of nephrite jade, which is a hard and durable material that requires patience and skill to work and then they have been inlaid with gold. Although it is a hard material, when it has been worked to give fine edges or thicknesses, it can be prone to damage by sharp impacts or significant and rapid changes in temperature. Although this was made for the exhibition, similar objects would have been destined only for wealthy or powerful people.

Physical description

A heart-shaped box and cover, with pierced openwork all over the cover and the sides of the box, with a floral design that has detail carved in low relief, the decoration being in Mughal revivalist style. There is a fine inlaid gold band on the top of the cover and another just above the lower rim. There is a third band on the box, just above the solid base. Fashioned in pale greyish green nephrite jade that has some greyish mottling and brownish-green patches. There are a few cracks present to both parts.

Place of Origin

Lahore (made)


ca. 1850 (made)

Materials and Techniques

Nephrite jade and gold, fashioned, pierced, carved and polished using abrasives and abrasive-charged tools.


Length: 99 mm 1626-1852, Width: 82.0 mm 1626-1852, Height: 26.00 mm 1626-1852, Thickness: 2.6 to 2.8 mm 1626-1852, Length: 99 mm 1626A-1852, Width: 82 mm 1626A-1852, Height: 20 mm 1626A-1852, Height: 42 mm Height of base and lid together (closed)

Object history note

Bought from the Great Exhibition of 1851 as being of recent manufacture and from Lahore, for the sum of £20-0-0.

Descriptive line

A heart-shaped box and cover, flower and leaf pierced openwork with detail carved in low relief, pale greenish grey nephrite jade, inlaid with kundan gold, Lahore, c. 1850

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

p. 126
Catalogue of the objects of Indian art exhibited in the South Kensington Museum / by H.H. Cole. London: Printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode and sold by Chapman & Hall, 1874
p. 227, cat. no. 1147
The art of India and Pakistan, a commemorative catalogue of the exhibition held at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1947-8. Edited by Sir Leigh Ashton. London: Faber and Faber, [1950]


Nephrite; Gold


Containers; Gemstones; Great Exhibition; Hardstone


South & South East Asia Collection

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