Inventory no.: 1604

Sri Lankan Temple Ewer


Long-Spouted Brass Temple Oil Ewer

Sri Lanka

18th century

height: 35cm, weight: 1,212g

This elegant ewer sits on a low, flared foot; has a flattened, spherical body; and a long, elongated, tapering spout. The handle features an unusual rope-twist knot.

Among Hindus, this knot is known as the

Brahma mudi or the ‘knot of Brahma’, for it has no beginning or end and is symbolic of the unending cycle of creation for which Brahma is responsible.

The top of the body is engraved with a wide border of finely rendered lotus petals. The lower part of the body has been engraved with several fine concentric bands.

The ewer has a soft, buttery patina and is in very fine condition.

Only a few similar ewers with a rope-twist handle have been published.

Such ewers were used in temples in Sri Lanka and possibly South India for filling the wells of small lamps with oil, the elongated, pointed spout being ideal for this task.

A similar ewer was offered at Sotheby’s London, ‘Arts of the Islamic World’, October 14, 1999, lot no.: 175.


Coomaraswamy, A.K.,

Mediaeval Sinhalese Art, Pantheon Books, 1956 reprint of the 1908 edition.

Inventory no.: 1604