Goanese Ivory "Cage Doll," ca. 1750
Appraised Value: $30,000 - $35,000
IMAGE: 1 of 1
Appraisal Video: (3:47)
Books & Manuscripts, Decorative Arts, Furniture, Pottery & Porcelain, Silver
GUEST: This is a doll that my grandmother collected. She started collecting when my sister and I were very young. And she collected a lot of the traditional dolls from the 19th century. And this was in the collection, but we don't really know anything about it. And my grandmother didn't provide any documentation. So she's always been kind of a mystery to us.
APPRAISER: I think you or somebody referred to it as an "ivory lady"?
GUEST Yes. In 1981 we had an appraisal done of the whole collection.
GUEST: And the lady that did the appraisal at the time, that's how she described her--"ivory lady."
APPRAISER: Well, she's right that far. These are often called Goanese Ivories. It's from the island of Goa. Are you familiar with the island of Goa?
GUEST: Goa? Is that in the Indian Ocean?
APPRAISER: Yes. We're going back to Portugal essentially in the 16th century. And the Portuguese colonization, you know, around the Horn in Africa and up around through the Indian Ocean, all the great Portuguese colonies that were set up--
APPRAISER: --in these various cities. And in the island of Goa is where these really sort of first appear or what they're called. We call them Goanese Ivories and they are actually called "Cage Dolls." But they are not meant for playing. They are meant for religious purposes.
APPRAISER: This was certainly a female saint that got the best set of duds that she ever got. (chuckles) And would probably... occupied a place of prominence, either in a chapel or a wealthy person's home.
APPRAISER: It dates to around 1750. So it's got some serious age to it. And, in fact, when you look, it does have the age lines that run through the ivory. We can tell it's ivory because of these swirls. Ivory grows like a tree.
APPRAISER: So you have lines that run through it which are like age lines in a tree. And we have ivory hands here as well. Over here we have got just a little replaced finger here--
APPRAISER: --that somebody put on. But we have ivory hands, ivory head-- nice size ivory head-- large, which is important. And we have this period costume which is made of sequins, silk and metallic thread that dates from the time period. Now that's really good. Because normally the dresses are the first things to go.
GUEST: Well, it's very fragile.
APPRAISER: It is very fragile and it's got these little jewelling here. And the cage underneath here is just wooden. And so they thought it was actually very interesting to take the dress away, so you just see the head and the arms and the cage underneath. Well, it's so much better that it has its dress. And we were all very excited to see that.
GUEST: Okay, okay.
APPRAISER: And it really represents the most basic of religious worship in these Portuguese colonies as they existed throughout the Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia.
GUEST: Was this a Catholic...?
APPRAISER: Yes, very much so.
APPRAISER: As the missionaries moved towards Asia, they were very, very cognizant of bringing along these, what some people call "santos figures." And... to spread Catholicism throughout the growing colonies. Now, this could be Goa, it could be Macao, it could be the Philippines, it could be anywhere that really had a strong Portuguese or Spanish colonial community. I happen to think that it's Southeast Asian. These are done by native carvers to what are essentially Portuguese specifications. So that's why it has a very interesting blend of Western features and yet the essence of it is really Oriental. It's very Asian. It's beautiful. Any idea as to value?
GUEST: When the appraisal was done in 1981, they put the value at about $1,000.
APPRAISER: Well, in today's market at auction, you're probably looking around $30,000.
GUEST: (gasps) Really?
APPRAISER: Yeah. Actually, we sold one that was slightly larger and a little earlier for $54.000, so...
GUEST: Oh, my goodness. Oh, my goodness. Okay.
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