19thC MEWARI SHIELD
Place of Origin: Mewar, India
Date: 19th Century
Diameter: 560mm (22 Inches)
This shield originates from Mewar, India, and belongs to a group wherein the main decorative display consists of striking painted scenes showing prey and predator animals locked in an intense struggle which surround a central portrait of Surya, the sun god from whom many Rajput elders claim descent and the insignia of the Mewar royal court.
The present example, though, shows some distinct and interesting stylistic features: Surya and the animal scenes, for example, are painted with finer lines, and the prey-animals’ wounds within the four main scenes are highlighted with trickling sprays of saffron-coloured paint.
Perhaps the most eye-catching element of this shield are the four bosses that surround Surya. The silver frame of each is inlaid throughout with luminous blue-and-green enamelling, the central arrangement depicting azure-coloured peacocks in profile amidst sky-blue flowers and emerald-green leaves. The six arches that emanate from the centre are likely stylised flowerheads set between curving leaves, though they are possibly also intended to mimic the fanning plumage of the bird that lends its pallet to the entire display.
The schema of the enamelling may be unique, though similar shields include an 18th-century example published by Runjeet Singh Ltd in Arms, Armour & Works of Art - London 2019 (Cat. No. 31) and another preserved at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (Accession Number 29.158.598).
Private collection, England.
Purchased in India in 1964, purportedly from the collection of the Maharana of Udaipur.