For the forthcoming Grand Auction, Riverside Auction House with reputation and professional experiences for 35 years is pleased to unveil well-selected highlight lots as well as a brief history and production process of nielloware.
“Nielloware has long been an inherited Thai art of craftsmanship that embeds masterful artisan and documented personal belongings of upper-class socialites in the ancient time.” Said Domechai, RCB Auctions Manager.
Lot 199 : A gilded silver niello teapot with an upright handle, decorated with a continuous scrolling floral vine pattern.
Lot 200 : An octagon gilded silver niello teapot with an upright handle, decorated with a continuous scrolling floral vine pattern. These two highlights are remarkable and rare gold nielloware. Niello objects are considered as luxury articles. In Thai, they are referred as ‘khruang thom’. This term is derived from the Pali word ‘thompa’ and the Sanskrit term ‘sathompa’. Hence, ‘thom’ means ‘to fill something up’ or ‘to contain’. Thus, ‘khruang thom’ refers to the art of applying the niello liquid which is called ‘ya thom’.
According to history, the tradition of presenting nielloware objects as State gifts goes back to the reign of King Narai of Ayutthaya (1656-1688). The King Narai sent them to King Louis XIV in France and to one of the Popes in Rome.
Nielloware is reputed for exquisite design in different shapes. Round shape includes rings, bangles, powder palette. Unique multi-angle shape can be necklaces and bracelets. The charm of each niello object depends on artisanal skills. Nielloware became a specialty in the southern Thai city of Nakhon Si Thammarat.
Process of creating nielloware is very complicated and elaborate. Hence, it requires great skill from the craftsman. The areas which are to be the background are carved in deep relief and filled with niello which is a black mixture of metallic alloys of lead, copper, and silver. Afterwards the niello is fused with the metal of the object by heating. The object is then smoothed by hand with a file and polished. Additional details can also be incised during the filing and polishing process. In the finished product, the silver or gold base of the object stands out and contrasts with the matte black background.