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Crutch handle

  • Date:

    17th century-18th century (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    White nephrite jade, diamond, emerald, gold and ruby. Fashioned using a variety of techniques.

  • Credit Line:

    Wells Bequest

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

  • Public access description

    This crutch handle has been fashioned in nephrite jade and has been expertly carved with flowers and leaves and inset with gold and gems. The fact that such a functional object has been fashioned to such a high standard in nephrite suggests that it was made for a wealthy or important person.

  • Physical description

    A crutch handle of a flattened "U" shaped form, with drooping terminals each carved as a slightly flattened poppy flower.
    In the centre of the base there is a vertical hole which is surrounded by an oval collar with twist decoration carved in low relief around its edge. Rising up from around the collar is a an eight-petalled poppy, carved in low relief together with elongated leaves on either side of each arm.
    On the underside of each arm there is a single inset pear-shaped ruby cabochon in a reflective, closed back setting that had probably been coloured but which shows signs of deterioration.
    On the upper surface of each arm, there is a flower on a stem formed from inlaid gold and two inset ruby cabochons and three simply-faceted diamonds in reflective, closed-back settings. In the centre of the upper surface, at the bottom of the "U" there is an inlaid gold quatrefoil.
    On either side of the arms there are two birds, with one on each arm. On one side of the arms, the birds are formed predominantly of inset cabochons of ruby with an emerald cabochon head, while on the other side of the arms, the birds are formed predominantly from emerald cabochons with a ruby head. In all four birds, the cabochon that forms the head has a central, small gold pin inserted to depict the eye. All the cabochons have been set into reflective, closed-back settings that were once coloured red or green but which have now deteriorated, with many showing a loss of colour.
    In total, there are 26 rubies (or pink sapphires), 18 emeralds (most are very pale) and six diamonds.

  • Dimensions

    Length: 172 mm +/- 1, Height: 49.1 mm, Depth: 25.65 mm, Length: 25.5 mm, Width: 21.4 mm, Depth: 18.6 mm

  • Object history note

    This crutch handle was acquired by Arthur Wells who was a Nottingham solicitor and Clerk of the Peace. He was a keen traveller and was made a Fellow of the Geographical Society. He is considered to be the first private British collector of Chinese jade and his collection of jade and other hardstone objects from South Asia was on exhibition at the South Kensington Museum at the time of his death in 1882. This collection was left to the museum in his will - the Wells Bequest.

  • Descriptive line

    Crutch handle [zafar tukieh], carved poppy terminals, white nephrite jade, bird design in inset rubies, emeralds and diamonds in gold, Mughal 17th or 18th century

  • Collection code

    South & South East Asia Collection