Thursday, 10 September 2015

Faith and Fortune

Tell me if you will the name, nature, period, purpose and materials of these objects.









Quipu and their usage

A close up of a small quipu showing undecyphered changes in colour, material and twist and a diagram of the account/counting system which appears to have been decimal based like our primary counting system.


  1. Perhaps, Rog, I should warn you away from suggesting that items 5 and 6 are skates for three-toed sloths, despite their fur coats, they do not like the cold.

  2. Going to try and tackle these from memory :- (1 with a little help from an elderly Seaby's catalogue) English Henry VIII second coinage, gold 'crown of the double rose' , circa 1514.


    (2) Wild guess. Inca gold breastplate, suspended from a rope quipu (so ner Rog), and circa 1450.

    (3) Hanging clock/ surmounted by singing bird box. This one was made for the Turkish market by one of the top London makers, circa 1760. There is a similar one (if not the same one) in the British Museum (but it might be in the V.and A.- can't remember; I was given a good look at it in the late 1970s.

    (4) Soapstone statuette of (?) the prophet Mohamet, Persian, 11th century.

    (6) Two toothbrush/soap containers, one hanging, one not. Polish, treen, eighteenth century. Pure guesswork.

    (7) Gold Pyx (useful scrabble word. French, 11th Century. I think this one's in the V.and A.

    (8) Quite superbly carved stringed instrument. Possibly Italian, circa 1450 (or earlier ?)

  3. 1. Gold Crown 17C

    2. Ashanti soul washer badge (or Akrafokonmu), 18C W Africa. Worn by high-ranking attendants at court in ceremonies glorifying the king.

    8 Citole - 14th Century. I'm refraining from making my normal puns here...

  4. Thank you Rog for your restraint on number 8, you certainly got to the bottom of it. An exceedingly rare and gorgeously decorative citole. The very one which Elizabeth's favourite, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester is reputed to have played to her. Your suggestion, Mike that it was pre 1450 is correct, 1280-1330 is the attributed period of its manufacture.
    Right again on 7 it is a pyx/box although technically this form of reliquary box is known as a bursa/purse. Dedicated to the Virgin and saints, on the back is a long inscription that lists all the relics once contained inside. In the Middle Ages, it was not unusual to combine many relics in one container, thereby increasing the number of saints who could potentially intercede to help answer the prayers of the faithful.
    6. Excellent imaginative answer Mike; regrettably it is a Bulgarian reapers tool to protect the left hand from the sickle's edge, presumably leaving a finger free to pick their noses with? You score close with Polish C.18th and I'm sure they probably used similar items.

  5. 4. Is a Chinese statuette of a Lohan, a Buddhist monk who has achieved enlightenment.
    3. I defer absolutely to you in all matters horological, Mike and inserted this picture to obtain a free consultation from you.
    2. Exactly as you say Rog a pectoral disc or badge of an Ashanti courtier.
    1. You're both correct it is a Henry & Katherine gold crown between 1509 and 1533, Note the crowned K for Katherine of Aragon opposite the crowned H for Henry VIII.
    Well done gents.

  6. PS. As far as I recall the quipu was an Inca accounting and messaging arrangement of cords, sometimes worn round the neck but usually suspended from the belt and not intended to support pendant objects.