Rare Indian tray sells for world record $1.47 million at Bonhams
A 16th century Indian decorative tray has stunned experts at Bonhams by selling for more than $1.4 million.
The tray, offered as part of Bonhams’ Islamic and Indian Art sale in London on October 6, was expected to sell for around £80,000 ($122,300).
Originating from Gujarat in North-West India, the mother-of-pearl and black lac overlaid wood tray is believed to be unique. Its design, depicting winged figures carrying birds or vessels, suggests Persian, Indian and European influences, and had never before been seen on a decorative object of its type.
“It has been amazing to work on such an extraordinary piece,” said Oliver White, head of Bonhams Islamic and Indian Art Department. “Mother-of-pearl overlaid objects of this type are incredibly rare, but the presence of winged figures makes our tray rarer still.
"There are no other recorded examples which feature angels and the fine quality of work and the exceptional condition of the tray make it a unique survivor outside museum collections.”
Whereas most items produced during the period were intended for export to Europe, the design of the tray suggests it was made specifically for an Indian patron.
However, the unusual nature of item could not prepare experts for the bidding war that followed, as it soared to more than ten times its estimated value and a final world-record price of £962,500 ($1.47 million).
Further notable results from the sale included a fine gem-set enamelled gold turban ornament known as a 'Jigha', produced in northern India during the 18th century, which sold above estimate for £68,500 ($104,800); and a 16th century Persian manuscript featuring forty unrecorded sayings (hadith) of the Prophet about the Imam 'Ali, which realized £27,500 ($42,073).
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