Enduring Splendor: Jewelry of India’s Thar Desert

February 19, 2017–June 18, 2017

Enduring Splendor focuses on the rich and diverse silver jewelry traditions of India’s Thar Desert region, which stretches across the western states of Rajasthan and Gujarat. These traditions will be considered against the background of the five-thousand-year history of jewelry making across the vast Indian Subcontinent. The exhibi­tion will include important sculptures and paintings borrowed from LACMA to demonstrate the profusion and variety of jewelry worn by Hindu gods and goddesses in ancient times and by maharajas and maharanis from the 17th to early 19th centuries. Drawing on recent field research carried out in the city of Jaisalmer, a thriving center of contemporary jewelry production, Enduring Splendor will explore for the first time the life and work of four sonis (silversmiths or goldsmiths). To contextualize this recent production, the exhibition will feature an extensive survey of 19th- and 20th-century jewelry types that are still worn by men and women of the region. These have been borrowed from the Ronald and Maxine Linde Collection of Jewelry and Ritual Arts of India, part of a promised gift to ucla, where it will find its future home with the Fowler Museum. The Linde Collection is one of the finest and most comprehensive collections of Indian jewelry in the world, and the Fowler exhibition highlights elaborate styles rendered in silver as well as selected ornate exam­ples made with gold and gemstones.


Header Image credit: Artist Unknown (Gujarat). Anklets (kadla), early 19th century. Silver. Ronald and Maxine Linde Collection, Promised Gift of Ronald and Maxine Linde, 15271


Selected Works:

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Videos on Contemporary Indian Silversmiths:

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Exhibition Credits

The exhibition is guest co-curated for the Fowler by Thomas Seligman, Director Emeritus, Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University, and Dr. Usha R. Balakrishnan, an independent scholar of Indian jewelry based in Mumbai. Major support for Enduring Splendor has been provided by C. Diane Christensen with additional funding from the Anawalt Program for the Study of Regional Dress Endowment Fund, an anonymous donor, and Avrum and Martha Bluming. The publication has been funded in part by The Ahmanson Foundation, on the recommendation of Foundation Trustee Emeritus, Lloyd E. Cotsen.