Large Silver Rosewater Sprinkler
height: 43.5cm, weight: 665g
This unusually large rosewater sprinkler of repoussed and chased silver is from Lucknow. It stands on an elongated, hexagonal, open-work foot that rises to a body of flattened, spherical form and then to a neck that comprises two elephant heads with their exaggerated, long necks entwined on which a large silver flowerhead rests. The flowerhead is perforated with small holes to allow the rosewater to be sprinkled out.
The body is decorated with lion heads on both faces and with prominent winged asparas in Indian garb on both sides, all amid pronounced floral scrolls and pomegranates.
The almost European styling of the winged asparas albeit with Indian dress may allude to the influence in Lucknow of the Frenchman Claude Martin, an eighteenth century engineer-architect who had a profound influence on architecture in Lucknow where he settled and with whose Nawabs he was particularly close.
Rosewater was used in the Islamic courts and houses of northern India to scent rooms. It was also offered to guests on arrival to refresh themselves after their journey. Sprinklers also formed part of the rites associated with wedding ceremonies.
This sprinkler is one of the tallest we have seen. It is free of any obvious dents or repairs, and has a good patina.
from a UK private collection
Llewellyn-Jones, R. (ed.), Lucknow: City of Illusion (The Alkazi Collection of Photography), Prestel, 2006.
et al, India’s Fabled City: The Art of Courtly Lucknow, LACMA/DelMonico Books, 2010.
Inventory no.: 1490