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Silhouette Peacock Belt Buckle

India (Mughal), 17th century

Height: 10.3 cm
Width: 8.6 cm
Depth: 0.25 cm

A tempered steel belt buckle taking the elegant form of a pierced and cusped ogival cartouche ornamented with addorsed peacocks cut out within the buckle and projecting in silhouette from the top and bottom. At the centre of the buckle are two vertical slots through which the leather belt or cloth sash would be threaded. Flanking the slots is a pair of peacocks on each side surmounted by a pierced dome.

The addorsed peacocks that form the bifurcated finial to the top and bottom lean down to peck their backs as their wings and tails meld into the overall form of the buckle. Great imagination and skill are displayed in the way the form of the peacocks with their arched necks, pointed beaks and protruding crests are incorporated within the buckle as cut-outs and without the buckle as projecting silhouettes, thus combining shapes in negative and positive space.

This small though useful object offers an insight into the practicalities of life in seventeenth century India, but at the same time functions as a charming piece of ornamental sculpture. The strength and simplicity of form have a striking modernity.


The Collection of John Robert Alderman and the late Dr Mark Zebrowski, collected in the late 1970s and 1980s

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