A LARGE SILVER REPOUSSÉ LIDDED CEREMONIAL TRAY OR BASIN (TOK)
Thailand or Cambodia, South East Asia, 19th century
Of typical shallow rounded shape with reinforced rim, resting on four sinuous legs engraved with the mythical vahana (vehicle) of Vishnu, Garuda, elected as the national symbol of Thai royalty, set on a gently splayed and stepped circular pedestal featuring a plain central roundel surrounded by rectangular cartouches with vegetal sprays and lush lotus flowers, the base, basin and stepped lid a triumph of South East Asian silver repoussé work, featuring overlapping bands of traditional Kra-Chang lotus petal motifs filled with miniature apsaras holding their hands together in a sign of respect alternating with lotus buds, vegetal scrolls, palmettes and geometric designs, the four-tiered flaming lid knob reminiscent of Thai and Cambodian Buddhist stupa and pagoda finials, the basin stamped with the hallmark MOL, the base finely engraved in cursive French script reading A Gift from S. M. Norodom Sihanouk to S. E. the Governor of Cochinchina Rivoal, January 1942, 27.5cm diam. and 31.5cm high, 1694GR.
Provenance: Cannes Enchères, France, 19 March 2021, lot 64, property from the collection of the Late André Georges Rivoal, the French Governor of Cochinchina (1940 - 1942).
The inscription engraved around the base suggests this ceremonial basin was offered as a gift to Mr. Rivoal by the King of Cambodia Norodom Sihanouk (1922 - 2012). Mr. Rivoal was the second-last French governor of Cochinchina before the Japanese occupation during World War II. After 1945 and the liberation from the Japanese troops, the status of this region became the subject of discord between France and the Viet Minh. In 1946, France proclaimed Cochinchina an "autonomous republic", but it wasn't long before the region was merged with southern Annam, leading to the establishment of the Republic of Vietnam in 1955.
Norodom Sihanouk would have gifted this ceremonial basin to the French governor Rivoal shortly after his appointment as king in 1941 upon the death of his maternal grandfather, King Monivong, at a time when Cambodia was still under the French Protectorate (until 1953).
Sold for £4,750
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