Susan Ollemans is returning to the Altfield Gallery with a new collection of Jewels from Asia. Susan, known for her collections of Mughal jewellery has decided to explore the differences between Chinese, Indian and South East Asian decoration.

The exhibition in three parts will show from India a large group of glittering enamelled pieces from the courts of the Mughal Princes dating from the 17th Century to the 19th Century. In India from the very earliest times it was considered inauspicious not to be jewelled. Jewels had to be worn on certain parts of the body in order to bring peace and harmony. The concept of the power of adornment in the embodiment of the king was paramount. Thus the more elaborate and rich the jewellery, the more powerful the wearer. A pair of 18th century diamond set Kada (bracelets) decorated in pink enamel from Benares showing a pair of entwined elephant heads is a superb example of this finely worked jewellery from the Muslim courts of the North and Hyderabad in the South.

From the South of India is a large group of dowry jewellery. The exquisite workmanship of the Tamil goldsmiths can be seen in particular on a finely worked collar in heavy repousse work made to decorate a deity. Gold was the storage of wealth amongst the women of India and passed from mother to daughter often seen to be worn by the poorest of village women to the heavily decorated brides and dancers.

The group from China starts during the Liao period with a pair of exquisite white jade birds set on gold strips which would have been worn in the hair. Jade examples of belt buckles, bangles and rings from the Ming and Qing periods will be on view including a marvellous silver-gilt hairpin of two phoenix inset with pink and imperial green jadeite and a fine pair of silver-gilt dragons carrying grey pearls. There are a few pieces of beautiful kingfisher jewellery also on view.

From South East Asia, mostly Java and Bali, come wonderful bold gold pieces dating from the Sono Period 9th Century through the Majapahit period.
It is from here that the continuity of ancient designs of jewels seen on stone deities in India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia seem to have been preserved. A wonderful delicate gold flower dating from the 9th Century will be offered.