Diadem with Kinnaris (Half-Bird, Half-Female Creatures)

Date: 9th–10th century

Culture: India (Jammu & Kashmir, ancient kingdom of Kashmir)

Medium: Gold inset with garnet

Dimensions: H. 4 5/8 in. (11.8 cm); W. 11 1/8 in. (28.3 cm)

Classification: Jewelry

Credit Line: Gift of Evelyn Kossak, The Kronos Collections, 1988

Accession Number: 1988.395a–c


The diadem is of repoussé goldwork. Nineteen pendants are attached to its lower edge, five on each side and nine on the central panel—the longer pendant in the center ends in a leaf-shaped form, the others in smaller concave disks. Rounded budlike forms, five on each panel, surmount the curves on the diadem's top edge. The pendants and buds are reminiscent of gold jewelry from the ancient Gandhara region. At the top outer edges of the central panel are two crescents encircling disks, a motif referring to the moon and sun that is frequently encountered in Kashmiri sculpture, either on the tops of mandorlas or as a finial on a stupa. The device also appears on the shoulders of crowned and jeweled Buddhas.

Four kinnaris dominate the design. There are two of these half-avian, half-female celestial creatures flanking the garnet in the center, and another on each side panel, their bird tail abstracted into complex rolling forms. Each of the kinnaris holds a thin jeweled chain, and the pair on the central panel also hold between them what seems to be a crown. The garnet is a sumptuous but discreet embellishment.