Zoomorphic Silver Water Jug
length: 23cm, height: 19.2cm, weight: 970g
This is the finest example of this type of colonial Kashmiri silver vessel that we have seen.
The animal-form water jug or ewer has a plump, elongated oval body; a thick neck that tapers to a wide opening that is covered by a flat, hinged lid surmounted by a pair of solid-cast silver tigers; four zoomoorphic feet; and a prominent, right-angle handle.
The body of the ewer is entirely engraved with paisley patterns infilled with scrolling flower and leaf motifs inspired by the flowers and leaves of the coriander plant. The engraving is among the finest that we have seen on Kashmiri work. The flowers are finely rendered and they are arrayed in superbly flowing lines in keeping with the purpose of the vessel – the holding and pouring of flowing water and perhaps even wine.
The vessel originally was entirely gilded (gold plated) inside and out. The interior gilding remains but most of the exterior gilding has worn away.
The extraordinary shape of this ewer is based on an askos, a zoomorphic pottery vessel used by the ancient Greeks to hold oil. The shape was used by British silversmiths in the nineteenth century to make silver water and claret jugs for Victorian dining tables. And it is from these Victorian copies of ancient Greek vessels, it seems likely, that Kashmiri silversmiths had their inspiration.
This item is in excellent condition.
Delight in Design: Indian Silver for the Raj, Mapin, 2008.
private collection, UK
Inventory no.: 1765
which the motifs for this piece partly are derived.