Inventory no.: 801

Mughal Gilt Spice Box, India, Indian


Silver-Gilt Spice or Cosmetics Box

Mughal India

18th century

diameter: 12.5cm, height: 5.0cm, weight: 268g

This beautiful snow flake-like spice box (masaladan) or cosmetics box (chaughara) has six compartments. It sits flatly without the aid of legs, is in silver sheet that has a softened, buttery hue from age and parcel gilding. The plump gilt central lotus bud finial with its petal fringe hides a screw with a hand-cut thread which screws out clockwise (rather than anti-clockwise) in the manner of eighteenth century Indian screw mechanisms. Once out, the hinged lids of the six compartments are free to open and reveal small boxes in which spices taken after a meal to freshen one’s breath or cosmetics for men such as sandalwood paste and vermilion could be stored.

Each compartment is separated by a gilded serrated leaf that terminates in a bud motif, and each compartment lid is similarly decorated with the bud motif acting as a small handle with which the lid can be raised.

Overall, this item is an elegant and jewel-like accoutrement of Mughal India.


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

Inventory no.: 801