Murder, however regal it may be, has never been an inspiration for jewellery, at least not for the kind we make. That's not to say a royal hunt is a random act of slaughter; there surely is somethi...
Murder, however regal it may be, has never been an inspiration for jewellery, at least not for the kind we make. That's not to say a royal hunt is a random act of slaughter; there surely is something of a grand spectacle sport about it, and the caparisoned elephants of the shooting party and the liveried band of servitors accompanying them are alone a sight to be awed by whether or not they return with the big cats or deer or whatever wildlife it is that they're out to kill.
Taking the jewelled form of a Shikargarh brocade of Benaras heritage, this bala seeks to reassess the idea of an organised killing spree in terms of a more benign act of chasing peacocks in the gardens of a hunting lodge and romanticizing the notion further by having two fierce makars guard the gates to this seat of shikar converted to a stately residence with a pleasure garden.
The naksha is unlike the sari where the kadwa weave indicates each motif realised separately. In the bala, the foliage and flowers and birds are all created in a single chasing done over weeks, a bit at a time, to rest the eye and the hands between carving and piercing out the intricate patterns. Even so, it's seamless : you'll never see the stop-and-start of the workmanship, such is its virtuosity. Also the 'peti', or the flat panel at the bottom that bridges the openwork of the naksha and completes and fortifies the structure of the jewel, is chased in a leaf-stitch style and given twine edgings to resonate with the scrolling vegetation of the body.
The makars, a sure-shot sign that Kamadeva's overseeing all matters of the heart in this glorious place, are splendidly embellished with wavy, combed manes and expressionistic eyes that come with finely notched eyelids! The paktar-lined ears and curled trunks have an imperious tilt to them and define the ferocity of these sea-creatures that are tasked with preventing any kind of interference to the majestic love-hunt taking place within the bountiful bagh. A crisscross engraving detail on the heads introduces a sculptural note and what's myth and legend becomes frozen in time with this tiny detail. A hinge ensures the heft of the jewel is an easy fit on all hands.
A pierced-naksha masterpiece in vermilion stained guinea-gold, the Shikarghar (not Shikargarh) Bala is a brilliant and timely reminder that war is good but only if it's for love and that any hunt you may undertake should be one that resolves the yearning of your heart and makes of the chase an amative sport that ends not in bloodshed but in the beauty of the conjoined souls of true lovers.
As such, this jewel is the hunt that becomes the home.