Inventory no.: 1008

Nepalese Ink Pot


Brass Ink Well


18th-19th century

height: 9.7cm

This is a traditional Nepali ink-well, cast in brass using the lost wax process. It is of typical form although it is of elegant proportions and features fine floral engraving. (The dimensions and shape are not unlike a Chinese snuff bottle.) The neck and foot are cast with a border of lotus petals in high relief. The oval-shaped flattened body is gadrooned and cast and engraved with pleasing flower motifs. The domed stopper has a ringlet as do the eyelets on either side of the body which have been cast with long lizards. This is a feature that is common among traditional Nepali ink-wells.

Shepherd Slusser & Fuller in their 1987 article on Nepali ink-wells comment that their use died out ‘decades’ ago and that few Nepalis now either recognise them or know what they were for. Most probably they were used by government officials and for the writing of religious texts. Possibly they were also used by the

kayastha, a caste of professional scribes who wandered around accepting itinerant work from the general population the vast majority of whom would have been illiterate.

The item is heavy for its size and has an excellent patina and obvious age.


Shepherd Slusser, M., & M. Fuller, ‘The Nepalese Ink-Well,’ in Arts of Asia, July-August 1987.

Inventory no.: 1008