The Koelz Collection of Himalayan Art



In addition to carrying elaborate ga’u or amulet boxes for spiritual protection, Himalayan men and women adorn themselves with elaborate ornaments for protection and beauty. As elsewhere in the world, ornaments also signal their wearer’s wealth, status and social position. Imported turquoise and coral stones have important sacred associations and medicinal qualities, and are present in many of the ornaments collected for U-M by Walter Koelz and Rup Chand. Koelz had a deep interest in jewelry, and sometimes commissioned silversmiths and stone setters to “improve” upon the objects he acquired. This is particularly evident in the wooden and silver snuff box (17226) for which he had new silverwork added by a jeweler in Himachal Pradesh and a new stone added as he journeyed homeward through Sri Lanka.

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