The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Ankus
  • Ankus
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Jaipur, Rajasthan, India
  • c. 1860-70
  • Iron, steel, gold, cabachon rubies, onyx, wood, wax, enamel and lasque-cut diamonds
  • Length: 54.2 cm
    Weight: 0.94 kg
  • OA1382
  • Oriental Armoury
Commentary
History
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Description
    A gold ankus of exceptional quality, decorated overall with polychrome enamels, lasque-cut diamonds and cabochon rubies. The tapering haft terminates in an elephant’s head.

    On the top of the haft is a blue enamelled elephant’s head with an upturned trunk. It is decorated with kundun-set diamonds and cabochon rubies. The eyes are of onyx or agate beneath gold eyelashes. The blue enamel ears are each set with a large tear-shaped cabochon ruby, and a large bell-shaped ruby decorates each cheek. On the underside beneath the ears are four bands of oblong cut rubies in gold kundun settings. On top of the head sits a red enamel cap covered in diamonds.The edge is decorated with a band of white enamel dots and a diamond fringe. The elephant has white enamel truncated tusks with bands of green enamel, and each tusk terminates in a cabochon ruby in a kundun setting. A spike and a hook emerge from the open mouth. The base of the spike is of similar blue enamel decorated with diamonds, and terminates in a green enamel Makara-head set with rubies, diamonds and numerous gold spots. It has white enamel teeth and onyx or agate eyes. A steel spike emerges from the mouth. It has a turned base damascened with gold and set with a ring of four rubies. The hexagonal polished spike has deep grooves separating each facet.

    The blue-enamelled, four-sided hook is set with leaf-shaped diamonds. The end is decorated with a collar of leaf-shaped red enamel with a white border and diamonds. It terminates in another, but smaller, green enamel Makara-head. A four-sided steel spike protrudes from the mouth, and each facet has a gold damascened spray of flowers.

    The rounded base of the haft is overlaid with red enamel and floral clusters of diamonds. At the base are several bands of green enamel leaves. This is attached to the haft by a screw thread, and the edges are covered by a circular flange decorated with black and white enamel. The tapering gold cylindrical haft is decorated at the grip with wide spiral bands of polychrome enamel on alternate green and white grounds. The white bands depict foliage and flowers principally in red and green, with traces of yellow and blue. The green band depicts a pavilion and a procession of animals, some attacking prey, including foxes, deer, antelope, monkeys, a tiger, a bull, a cheetah and a cockerel amongst flowers and foliage. The upper section of the haft is covered in spiral panels of blue enamel profusely decorated with diamonds in the form of flowers and foliage. At the top is a band of red and green enamel leaves on a white ground, interspersed with leaf-shaped diamonds. A small green enamelled parrot is attached to the back edge of haft. It has a red enamelled head, a blue collar, carved ruby wings and onyx eyes.

    Discussion
    This ankus was displayed as part of Lord Hertford’s collection in the Musee Retrospectif Exhibition, Paris 1865, no. 6238. Another similar example is in the Victoria and Albert Museum (02693 T. S.), it was acquired by the Museum in 1871, newly made, from the International Exhibition and is illustrated in Skelton 1982. A third example is mentioned by Egerton when discussing enamelling, ‘a splendid example of this is the Ankus which was exhibited by the Maharaja of Jaipur at the Vienna Exhibition, 1873. It is a matter of regret the production of these beautiful enamels should be so restricted as it now is, all articles manufactured becoming the property of the state, which pays liberally for them. The art of enamelling in other parts of India has not attained the perfection reached at Jaipur’. Egerton goes on to discuss the art of enamelling in India.

    Jacob and Hendley record that ankus, when made of gold or enamel, were presented by rajas to men of rank, and formed part of the Khillat (the dress of honour) given by the Maharaja of Jaipur to some of the higher nobles. Hendley illustrates a similar ankus in Indian Jewelry.