Large Superb Chased Silver Teapot in the Bukharan Style
height: 34.8cm, weight: 1.06kg
This unusually large silver ewer is in the style of a Bukharan teapot, although the work is clearly of Kashmir origin – the teapot is entirely chased with the Kashmiri ‘rosette’ pattern within floral and paisley borders. The rosette pattern is based on the flowers and foliage of the coriander plant. (The form of the teapot might appear to be a coffee pot to European tastes but in fact, coffee drinking was unknown in Bukhara in the nineteenth century and earlier – tea was the beverage that was universally consumed.)
The teapot has a tear-shaped flared body that is decorated with tear-shaped cartouches to either side. It sits on a wide, flared circular foot. The spout is prominent and continues some way down the base. The lid has a bud finial, matched by a bud-like protuberance that rises and curls down from the handle.
The solid cast handle is in the form of a highly-stylised rooster (lower part) and
makhara (upper part); such stylisation allowed the silversmith to conform with Islamic notions that mitigate against the overt, potentially idolatrous depiction of animal and human forms.
Overall, this is an impressive and monumental piece – surprising for its size and its elaborate decoration. The proportions are excellent, the work is particularly fine and the item has a good weight in the hand. By any measure, this is a rare and extraordinary piece that both showcases the heights of which nineteenth century Kashmiri silversmithing was capable, and demonstrates a syncreatic blend of influence between Islamic north India and Bukhara, underscoring the trade routes at that time.
Watt, G., Indian Art at Delhi 1903, Being the Official Catalogue of the Delhi Exhibition, 1902-1903, Superintendent of Government Printing, India, 1903.
Inventory no.: 1246
plant on which the motifs for this piece partly are derived.