Inventory no.: 3500

Malay Silver Bowls, Brunei


Pair of Chased & Gadrooned Silver Bowls (Batil)

Malay People, Brunei

circa 1900

diameter: 11.4cm, height: 5.6cm, combined weight: 194g

This pair of Islamic-influenced bowls (batil) from the Malay people of Brunei are of solid hammered silver that has been chased and engraved with decoration.

Each bowl is engraved with a foliage and petal border, and has been gadrooned down its body.

The bases are flattened and have another foliage and petal band around a central depression. Each has two cartouches engraved with

jawi, the localised version of Arabic script.

The designs are entirely within the Malay aesthetic.

Such bowls were used to hold rice or water, or used as finger bowls. At other times they might have been used in ceremonies to pour water. Probably, they owe their semi-spherical shape which flattens towards the base to inspiration from the coconut shell which was used as a receptacle and to measure out rice grains among poorer Malay households (Fraser-Lu, 1989, p. 73.) The depression on the base of each bowl is for one finger to allow the bowl to be steadied as it scoops rice or water.

The pair is in fine condition, without dents or repairs. The bowls were acquired from within the UK. This is typical: many examples of Malay silver were brought to the UK as souvenirs during the colonial era.


Fraser-Lu, S., Silverware of South-East Asia, Oxford University Press, 1989.

Ling Roth, H.,

Oriental Silverwork: Malay and Chinese, Truslove & Hanson, 1910.Provenance:

UK art market

Inventory no.: 3500