Inventory no.: 1061

Madras Silver Claret Jug – Indian Colonial Silver


Silver ‘Swami ware’ Claret Jug

Madras, India

circa 1865

height: 30cm, weight: 509g

This elegantly proportioned, silver claret jug features various stylised Hindu deities and as such falls into the oeuvre of Madras ‘Swami ware’ popularised principally by the Madras silversmithing firm P. Orr & Sons.

The tapered body comprises two wide bands of deities in cloud-like cartouches separated by fine, scrolling foliage. The section between these bands is plain other than for fine tooling. A shield cartouche in high relief is on one side of this band. It is finely engraved with an English family crest showing a hand with the index finger raised above a ribbon with the motto ‘Respice Finem’ (‘Look to the End’ – a motto that implores one to consider the outcome).

The neck has a band of deities and it opens to a wide, long mouth with a hinged lid surmounted by a realistically-rendered, cast silver snake charmer facing a rearing cobra whose finely scaled body arches and falls to the shoulder of the jug thereby serving as a handle. The jug stands on a wide, flared tiered foot chased with leafy scrolling borders.

A related claret jug by P. Orr & Sons is illustrated in Wilkinson (1999, p. 156). Another is illustrated in Dehejia (2008, p. 103).

Overall, this example is in very fine condition. It is without dents, splits or repairs.


UK art market.


Wilkinson, W.R.T., Indian Silver 1858-1947, 1999; and Dehejia, V., Delight in Design: Indian Silver for the Raj, Mapin, 2008.

Inventory no.: 1061