5559

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Fine & Unusually Tall Pair of Mughal Pierced Silver Rosewater Sprinklers

North India
18th-19th century

heights: 38.8cm, combined weight: 1,165g

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Provenance

UK art market

This pair of rosewater sprinklers dates to the 18th or early 19th century and are typically Mughal in inspiration. They are unusually tall, being almost 40 centimetres in height. They have oval, domed feet; flattened, round bodies; and tall, narrowing necks that lead to flower-like heads that are pierced to permit the flow of scented water.

The centres of the bodies have roundels on both sides that are decorated with pairs of birds amid flowers and foliage and these roundels are pieced all the way through to make it look impossible for the sprinklers to hold any water. This optical illusion is achieved by having tubes that run around the insides of the bodies and it is these that hold the water.

Each sprinkler is also decorated with acanthus leaf flourishes, including separately-made leafy collars. The sides of the bodies are magnificently decorated with hemi-spherical nodes that are alternatively plain and chased with flower motifs.

The feet are decorated with bands of dimples which the Mughals liked because at a distance the chasing looks like flat-cut diamonds.

Surviving examples of matched pairs of Indian sprinklers are relatively rare; usually the two become separated.

Such sprinklers were used in India at important ceremonies such as weddings. They were also used to scent rooms, and were offered to guests as they arrived at an important home so that they might freshen up after a journey.

Overall, this pair of sprinklers is highly decorative and sculptural. Their quality is very fine. They have a wonderful age-related patina, and sit solidly without rocking. The necks will have a twist, screw thread to open but these are currently tight and difficult to open, and there are tiny, age-related dents and so on, but these are to be expected. Overall, this is a very fine pair.

References

Terlinden, C., Mughal Silver Magnificence, Antalga, 1987.

Zebrowski, M., Gold, Silver & Bronze from Mughal India, Alexandria Press, 1997.

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