Inventory no.: 2941

South Indian Colonial Silver Jug


Colonial Silver Jug Finely Engraved with Avatars of Vishnu

South India

circa 1820

height: 12.6cm, weight: 333g

This colonial Indian silver jug is unusual for the fact that it is of early 19th century English form (although this piece might date to even earlier) but its surface is engraved with ten avatars of Vishnu around its globular body. The upper section of the body is engraved with rococo-esque leafy flourishes. The handle, which is not solid cast but hollow, follows a similar form.

The jug sits on a low ring foot which is finished with beaded edging.

The jug most probably was made in Madras and is a forerunner of what became known as ‘swami’ ware, a form of colonial Indian silverware produced in Madras and which was decorated with stylised Hindu gods.

No obvious assay or maker’s marks are present.

Overall, this is a rare and very pleasing example of early colonial Indian silver. The engraving work is very fine and shows little loss of definition from polishing.


Bennett, J., (ed.). , Realms of Wonder: Jain, Hindu and Islamic Art of India, Art Gallery of South Australia, 2013.

Wilkinson, W.R.T.,

Indian Silver 1858-1947, 1999.Provenance:

UK art market

Inventory no.: 2941