“When Gold Blossoms”: South Indian Jewelry at the Figge

Traditionally, Indian women wear their wealth in the form of gold necklaces, bejeweled nose rings, dazzling bracelets, bejangling anklets. Now you can get a glimpse of a gorgeous assortment of Southern Indian gold jewelry—including hair pendants and jeweled crowns—at the Figge Art Museum in Davenport. “When Gold Blossoms: Indian Jewelry from the Susan L. Beningson Collection," organized by the Asia Society and Museum in New York, is a traveling exhibit that has crisscrossed the country , and is now in Davenport through August 24, 2008. The collection features over 150 pieces, fashioned by skilled artisans with a penchant for organic forms—considered to be auspicious—like buds, flowers, seeds, and berries.


Through the ages, Indian women have worn jewelry not just as adornment but also to convey social standing and religious beliefs. Dating mainly from the 17th through 19th centuries, the pieces in this collection reflect Susan Beningson's personal esthetic, according to curator Molly Emma Aitken: “The collection began with a necklace that Beningson bought to wear and a pair of earrings that she found to match. It is a collection based not on academic principle but on the pleasures of seeing, touching, and wearing. ‘When Gold Blossoms’ gives us the chance to share in the wearers' pleasures with careful, close viewing.”