129. A Falcon’s Gold Leg-Ring

Central India, 8th–9th century
Size: 2.7 cm high

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This ring is different from all the known bird rings of Java in that it has a figure of the Bodhisattva Padmapani, strongly suggesting an Indian origin. Buddhism and Hinduism travelled from central India to Indonesia via the trade routes that had evolved for spices and gold. Falconry has always been the sport of kings; high-performing birds changed hands for high prices, and still do. The falcon would have been shown but not flown wearing such a ring: nothing was allowed that might slow the speed of the bird when it left the glove.