Of Indo-Iranian inspiration, the rectangular-shaped yellow gold case embellished with friezes depicting paisley motifs with floral accents in white enamel, the central section decorated with engine turned linear detail within...
Of Indo-Iranian inspiration, the rectangular-shaped yellow gold case embellished with friezes depicting paisley motifs with floral accents in white enamel, the central section decorated with engine turned linear detail within borders of stylised Indo-Iranian architectural arches, the push-button opening set with rose-cut diamond accents, opening to reveal two hinge-covered compartments, one with its original power puff, and a spring-set comb in gold and tortoiseshell, the lid with a bevelled mirror, further concealed lipstick compartment accessible via push-opening within left-hand frieze, signed Cartier Paris Londres New York and numbered, maker's mark for Renault workshop, French assay marks for gold. Dimensions: 11cm long, 4.6cm wide, 1.5 cm deep.
Note: The inspiration for this vanity case is one of those seen in many objects and jewels around 1925. The lines of Mughal Indian motifs and traditional Persian architecture lent themselves particularly well to vanity cases, especially as in this period the demand for 'Modern' geometric forms was beginning to shape the fashionable aesthetic. In this case, there is a sobriety and nonchalant simplicity about its appearance that betrays what is actually a beautifully designed and executed little vanity case.
The origins of the Paisley motif are difficult to casually outline but studies propose theories that it has its roots in ancient Sasanian culture with examples excavated in tombs in Achmim in Egypt, dating from the 6th-8th Century, along Aryan trade routes. In essence, it is an ancient Indo-Iranian symbol that has permeated Western design since its introduction by the East Indian Company from the mid 17th Century, mainly in the form of shawls from Kashmir.
The design became incredibly popular in England and Scotland by the 19th Century with demand outweighing the rate of importation. In response to this dilemma, the textile industry sought to produce its own versions and, as the hub of the weaving industry at this time, it was in the town of Paisley in the central west lowlands of Scotland that first began to produce these shawls around 1808. It is from here that originates the Western name for the motif, having been called the Boteh in Persian. This ancient symbol is now not only reserved for shawls and continues to be a part of our decorative pallet in infinite forms.
Beyond the decoration, the engine turned decoration to the metal in imitation of the sheen of a fine silk or cashmere textile, the hidden lipstick which can be accessed without having to open the whole case, and the spring mechanism on the comb meaning you don't have to risk damaging your nails to get it out are particularly satisfying feats of fabrication.