A Very Rare Late 17th Century Bezoar Stone Holder with Original Stand

Maker: 
Unmarked, Probably made in Goa.
Dated: 
Circa 1690
Dimensions: 
The Sphere 2.25" diameter, 5.9cm, 2.9" high, 7cm

Made in fine filigree and in two hemispheres with gilded strapwork descending from a 6 petalled flower at the top of one half and from a small ball on the other. The strapwork itself forming a 12 petalled design at the upper and lower parts of each hemisphere. The gilt stand with 3 scroll legs supporting a circular ring.

Price: 
£9500

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These beautiful holders, sometimes referred to as Goa Stone Holders are seldom found in filigree and as India was one of the main sources of filigree it is highly likely that this piece was made in Goa towards the end of the 17th century when the demand for bezoar or Goa stones was at its peak.  A bezoar was a fatty concretion found in the gut of certain animals, usually goats, but were believed to possess magical properties and in particular to guard against poison infecting a wound. Such was the demand for them in Persia that an edict was passed forbidding the slaughter of goats as they were being killed at such a rate that nearly rendered the whole country bereft of the poor animals. The reasons were all too obvious to understand as the value of a bezoar stone in the 17th century was higher than gold.

Curiously the "spheres" rarely sat in their stands around the central coupling, presumably by raising them up they became more accessible or easier to pick up.

Bezoars from the Middle East tend to be made from very finely pierced sheet which, at first glance, ressembles filigree but is not made with finely coiled wire as with the above example. Although we have had a number of the Middle Eastern type of holders this is the first filigree example that we have been fortunate enough to acquire. The soft colour of the gilding is delightful and the overall condition is superb.