Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Goa Stone and Gold Case

Object Name:
Goa stone and container
late 17th–early 18th century
Probably made in India, Goa
Container: gold; pierced, repoussé, with cast legs and finials Goa stone: compound of organic and inorganic materials
Goa stone: Diam. 1 3/16 in. (3 cm) container: H. 2 5/8 in. (6.7 cm) Diam. 5 11/16 in. (14.4 cm)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 2004
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 463
Goa stones, named for the place where they were manufactured by Jesuits in the late seventeenth century, were manmade versions of bezoars (gallstones from ruminants). Both types were used for their medicinal and talismanic powers. These treasured objects were encased in elaborate containers made of gold and silver and often exported to Europe. Surviving examples are recorded in European treasuries, including one made for the duke of Alba in the late sixteenth century (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna). The stone was usually a compound of organic and inorganic materials, including bezoar, shell, amber, musk, resin, and crushed precious gems, which would be scraped and ingested with tea or water.
The egg-shaped gold container enclosing this stone consists of hemispherical halves, each covered with a layer of pierced, chased, and chiseled gold foliate openwork. An arabesque surface pattern is overlaid with an ogival trellis containing a variety of beasts, some highly Europeanized, including unicorns and griffins. The source of these images is likely to have come to Goa through the Portuguese and may also reflect a particular European patron. (This example was brought to England in the eighteenth century by a British officer in the East India Company.)
Gough and Hall families, England, by descent from early 18th century; Humphrey Farran Hall, England, by descent (until d. 1910); George William Marshall, England(from 1910); Bonhams, London, October 16, 2003, no. 349; [ Sam Fogg, London, until 2004; sold to MMA]
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Sultans of Deccan India, 1500-1700: Opulence and Fantasy," April 20, 2015–July 26, 2015, no. 189.

"16 October 2003." In Indian and Islamic Art. London: Bonhams, London, 2003. no. 349.

Levenson, Jay A., ed. "Portugal and the World in the 16th & 17th Centuries." In Encompassing the Globe. Washington, D.C.: Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, 2007. p. 261, ill. fig. I-29, (color).

Ekhtiar, Maryam, Sheila R. Canby, Navina Haidar, and Priscilla P. Soucek, ed. Masterpieces from the Department of Islamic Art in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1st ed. ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011. no. 277, 341, 389-390, ill. p. 390 (color).

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012. p. 142, ill. (color).

Haidar, Navina, and Marika Sardar. "Opulence and Fantasy." In Sultans of Deccan India 1500–1700. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2015. no. 189, p. 316, ill. pl. 189 (color).

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