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A haldili amulet

Number

M20.062

Origin

Mughal Empire

Time

18th century

Technique

Carving, engraving, inlaying, gem-setting

Material

Jade, diamonds, rubies, emeralds, gold

Dimensions

Length 57 mm; width 41 mm

The amulet is an oval-shaped plate carved from pale gray jade. The obverse side is decorated with a central tree-of-life motif and a wide floral border that are inlaid with gold and set with precious stones in the traditional Indian kundan technique. The reverse side is engraved with a large flower framed by a foliate border. The rectangular protrusion at the top of the plate features a through channel for the cord. Total 35 diamonds, 26 rubies, and 6 emeralds.

COMMENT. Haldili is an Indo-Muslim amulet, which is a polished jade plate with a hole for the cord at the top. Regardless of the shape and size, the plate is inlaid with gold and set with precious or semiprecious stones on the obverse side, and the decoration always includes the central tree-of-life motif. The name can be translated from Arabic as "heart healing" or "soul enlightenment". The haldili worn on the chest either as an individual pendant or as part of a necklace to control the heartbeat and to gain peace of mind. These amulets became popular in India during the Mughal period (1526-1858), but they are still used by both Muslims and Hindus. The shapes and sizes of jade amulets are highly variable, but large oval examples are very rare. Three similar examples can be seen in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (inv. nos. 02.18.788, 02.18.789 and 02.18.790). All of them from the former Heber R. Bishop collection (see The Heber R. Bishop Collection of Jade and Other Hard Stones. – New York, 1909. – P. 85, nos. 788-790).