An 'Indian Virgin's Bower' might have seemed like an artfully lascivious invitation for men during uptight Victorian times but sounds just plain stupid, sexist, exploitative and offensive today. Wh...
An 'Indian Virgin's Bower' might have seemed like an artfully lascivious invitation for men during uptight Victorian times but sounds just plain stupid, sexist, exploitative and offensive today. Why the Himalayan Clematis, or Garol-Phul, would be called by such a name is a mystery considering its lovely, scented, four-petalled flowers that burst forth in spring and its thick green foliage make for a much-in-demand ornamental climber that can be easily trained and which, while a native of the Himalayas, is actually more popular in England and Europe (the mystery seems to dissipate a bit, here), having been introduced in their famous gardens by Lady Amherst sometime in the 1830s, ostensibly to do something meaningful after her husband --- an erstwhile Governor-General of India --- was relieved of his position and retired to Kent.
Well, the bala puts all that heavily loaded history aside and celebrates the beauty of the plant by covering itself with a neat net of the blossoms set against a dark scarlet background of lustrous enamel. The puté mukh repeats the pattern but is contrasted in rich green mina. The screwtop flower, the embossed peti, and the paktar-goltar band on the neck, either side, are all small but crucial details that contribute to the experience of a truly exquisite ornament.
It's not our design but an artisan submission we accepted because of its quality of make and stunningly realized composition which makes it a case in point to prove the imaginative efficacy and creative faculties of craftsmen. Given the opportunity, they can make art. Thus, the bala is nothing less than a testimonial in guinea gold of the extraordinary skills and artistic sensibilities of Bengali karigars, especially in the area of fine jewellery. We named it after it was brought to us, and it now becomes a jewel of fragrant Garol-Phul for your hands.
As for the 'Indian Virgin' part of the story, we shall overwrite that and, for the sake of a timeless ornament of universal beauty, designate it 'Indian Lady's Folly' ---- with no double entendre anywhere in sight.