Saturday, January 18, 2014

Mastery of Design: The Tiger Claw Necklace, c. 1865

Tiger Claw Necklace
India, c. 1865
The Victoria & Albert Museum

In Nineteenth Century India, a tiger’s claws were considered to be powerful charms against evil. They were frequently used as amulets. Visitors to India, especially the British, found this custom charming and started to bring tiger claw amulets back to Britain as souvenirs. By the middle of the century, with a growing market, makers of tiger claw charms branched out into more elaborate pieces such as this one.

It was clearly made for the British market. The design is very similar to the shape and form of European jewelry. This particular necklace was exhibited at the Paris International Exhibition in 1867. Ten tiger claws of graded size have been set in engraved gold. The claws are linked by chains and the whole piece hangs from a gold snake. 

It’s quite ghastly, no?

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