Tag Archives: India

Introducing the International Framework project

Dieter Quast and Alexandra Hilgner from the Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum (RGZM) in Mainz explain the initial questions of the project “Weltweites Zellwerk – International Framework” regarding the origin and development of garnet cloisonné jewellery in the early middle ages. Garnet gemstones from India arrived in a vast amount during the 6th century in the Merovingian kingdom in central Europe. In the 7th century, the cloisonné jewellery style was suddenly disappearing. Was it because of a change in fashion or did something happen to the former trade routes? The International Framework project, organised by the RGZM, the SAI Heidelberg and the LVR-LandesMuseum, Bonn with partners in Sweden, the UK and Hungary tries not only to find answers to these questions regarding the value and the meaning of the gemstone garnet, but also to understand the international trade and economic interactions in the “dark ages”.

Gemstones in Indian Religions

Lecture held by James Mchugh, Los Angeles

India and neighboring regions were the main sources of many gemstones in the Old World. Pre-modern Indian texts on gemology display a complex knowledge, both practical and mythological, of the origins, locations, properties, and evaluation of many types of gemstone. In Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism gemstones play a number of important and varied roles, from sanctifying the foundations of temples to constituting the building blocks of heavens. This paper introduces the mythological origins and supernatural potencies of the main gemstones as found in textual sources, and also presents an explanatory survey of the main religious contexts where gemstones were used. The paper will also consider the methodological difficulties in comparing textual sources with material finds.

Lecture held during the conference “Gemstones in the first Millennium AD. Mines, Trade, Workshops and Symbolism.” October 21st, 2015 at the Roemisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum, Mainz (Germany).

Foto: Carvings of strings of jewels from a 6th century CE cave at Badami India. (J. Mchugh)

Gemstones in Southeast Asia and beyond: Trade along the maritime networks

Lecture held by Brigitte Borell, Heidelberg

This lecture presents some aspects of the complex patterns of gemstone trade and manufacture from the Indian Ocean to the South China Sea in the late centuries BCE and the early centuries CE. The focus will be on some of the archaeological sites in the region of the Isthmus of Kra in southern Thailand, where the maritime routes appear to have been connected by land crossings of this narrow part of Malay Peninsula. Finds from these sites include Roman intaglios, garnets and carnelians from India as well as evidence for the on-site production of carnelian and agate beads and other ornaments with Indian technologies. The presence of South Asians in the Isthmus of Kra area is further attested by stone seals inscribed with the owner’s name in Indian Brāhmī script. In addition, the paper will outline the gemstone trade farther to the east, to southern China, based on the finds from Han period tombs in the area of the Gulf of Tonking and Guangdong.

Lecture held during the conference “Gemstones in the first Millennium AD. Mines, Trade, Workshops and Symbolism.” October 20th, 2015 at the Roemisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum, Mainz (Germany).

Foto: B. Borell

The red garnet industry in contemporary Rajasthan

Lecture held by Borayin Larios, Heidelberg

 

India has become increasingly difficult. Historically believed to be a key zone for the extraction or red garnet, Rajasthan has now allegedly become a second choice for the gemstone manufacturers from Jaipur. Stake-holders in the production of gemstones presumably procure the majority of garnet rough from African countries such as Tanzania, Madagascar and Zambia, and occasionally from other parts of India, mainly from the state of Orissa.  In the fall of 2014, I ventured to look for red garnet (almandine) sources in the region of Rajasthan, and what I found was a completely different story: protected by local politicians paid off by bribes by the miners, larger mine operations of all kinds of minerals go on despite being outside the law. In the case of the gemstone quality of garnet, small-scale and artisanal mining activities are being carried out in different parts of Rajasthan and it seems that this this type of informal mining might have been the rule rather than the exception also in earlier times. In this paper, I will present my findings on how the local garnet industry is still alive in Rajasthan and what challenges it brings to the researcher to follow the trail of garnet from the mine to the costumer, not only from a historical perspective, but also in contemporary India.

 

 

The Video shows  contemporary garnet mining and processing in Rajasthan, India.

Lecture held during the conference “Gemstones in the first Millennium AD. Mines, Trade, Workshops and Symbolism.” October 20th, 2015 at the Roemisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum, Mainz (Germany).

The Development of Cloisonné between India and the Byzantine Empire

Deutsche Version | Team

This subproject is concerned with basic research that is to say with the question of origin and stylistic development of cloisonné between India and the Byzantine Empire. Following a careful chronological classification, significant insight will be gained through a combination of published finds and some of the objects from the collections of the RGZM originating in this vast geographic area. Continue reading The Development of Cloisonné between India and the Byzantine Empire

Garnet in South Asia

Historical and Archaeological Sources

Deutsche Version | Team

The Indological sub-project of the International Framework will concentrate on two thematic foci. The first is the study and translation of textual sources describing pre-modern knowledge about gemstones and their specific effects. Here we deal with diverse texts composed in Sanskrit which not only present various characteristics of gemstones and their astrological, medical and spiritual potency, but which also relay the legends and myths associated with them. Continue reading Garnet in South Asia