Crafted in the form of animals, this exceptional pair of bronze palanquin finials were used to adorn the pole ends of the palanquin or palki. These litter-type modes of transportation have been in use in India for centuries and required 2 to 4 pairs of bearers to carry them.
The word “palanquin” is derived from the Sanskrit “palanki” meaning “bed” or “couch”. These lushly covered conveyances were intended to be carried by four to eight bearers known as “behara”, “dulia”, “boyee” or “behara” depending on the region. The interiors were furnished with specialized bedding materials, including pillows to provide the utmost comfort while traveling. Though the earliest mention of palanquin dates to the 3rd century BCE in the epic poem Ramayana, the height of usage occurred during the Mughal era from the 16th through 19th centuries. It wasn't until the advent of railways and roadways that could accommodate wheeled modes of transportation that the use of palanquin fell out of favor. Today, these bygone conveyances are used in ceremonies such as weddings.
The ornamentation and complexity palanquin was directly related to social status. The finals also abided by this convention, but these adornments also reflected whether the owner was male or female. Flowers, particularly lotuses, and birds were the typical forms found on women’s palanquin, while those for men often featured fierce animals and creatures from Indian mythology and folklore.
Similar palanquin finials can be found in the collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Heritage Transport Museum in Taoru, India has an entire exhibit devoted to palanquin with varied finials on display.
3 200 €