Mughal Brass Writing Box
late 19th century
length: 33 cm; height: 17 cm
The box is cast in brass and engraved with foliate scrolling and geometric designs.
It comprises two separate tubular pen holders separated by an open-work fringe, a cylindrical inkwell with a Mughal-style ribbed onion dome cover, and a small attached pot possibly for sand. An elaborately cast pin holds in place a double lid to the pen compartments.
Writing boxes from the Islamic world most commonly come from Ottoman Turkey. Mughal Indian boxes are much rarer and this example is particularly fine.
A near identical box is in the collection of the British Museum (inventory no. BM.1996 0223.1), although it is without an attached sand pot and the lid is secured with a less elaborate pin.
The British Museum example is illustrated in Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia,
Mightier than the Sword, Arabic Script: Beauty and Meaning
, IAMM Publications, 2004, p. 170.
Inventory no.: 91