Inventory no.: 2008

Colonial Trichinopoly Snuff Box


Large Silver-Gilt Snuff Box

Trichinopoly, South India

circa 1870

length: 10.5cm, width: 6.4cm, thickness: 3.3cm, weight: 282g

This larger-than-typical snuff box is of gold-plated repoussed and chased silver. Its decoration and form is typical of colonial Trichinopoly silverwork.

The box is surprisingly heavy-in-the-hand, partly as a result of it being double walled such that the gilded interior is smooth.

The hinged lid is decorated with various avatars of Vishnu, including Matsya (the fish avatar) and Varaha (the boar avatar), amid dense foliage and flowers, within a floral border. The edge of the lid is similarly decorated with flower work in relief. All sides have further panels showing further deities, avatars and

yali-type creatures that sit on their haunches.

Trichinpoloy (known as Tiruchirappalli today) is the former French concession of South India. Although less than 350 kilometres from Madras, but under the British East India Company and later, British colonial administration, its silversmiths developed a unique style that incorporated the ‘swami’ style of Madras with incredibly dense and fine floral and foliage relief work. The silver and gold items produced in Trichinopoly tended to be small, luxurious items such as snuff boxes and perfume bottles. Trichinopoly silverwork is relatively rare among colonial Indian silverwork.

This box is in fine condition. There is some age-related wear to the extremities. It has a fine patina. The lid fits well and tightly. There are no dents, splits or repairs.


Dehejia, V.,

Delight in Design: Indian Silver for the Raj, Mapin, 2008.

Wilkinson, W.R.T.,

Indian Silver 1858-1947, 1999.


UK art market

Inventory no.: 2008



to see Islamic Indian silver.