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This superbly decorated bowl is of engraved, heavy copper, that has been silvered. It has been decorated in the Persian style but is of Indian origin. It draws on a long history of the manufacture of such silvered and tinned copper drinking bowls produced in Persia and northern India, stretching back hundreds of year.
The engraving work, which includes six panels of repeated Nasta’liq script, is extremely fine and dense, and is among the finest we have seen on a bowl of this type. The inside, exterior sides, and base are all finely engraved.
Seven panels on the outside show Persian themed scenes with courtly figures in Qajar-style dress, but there are also panels that include an Athena or Minerva-like character wearing a helmet and holding scales and a scene showing a mother and child which is an allusion to, or influenced by, depictions of Mary and the infant Jesus. |The panels are separated by columns filled in with finely rendered Indian animals such as camels and elephants.
The base is decorated with a roundel that shows St George mounted on a horse and slaying the dragon.
The interior has panels of script, portraits of noble figures and fine vegetal scrollwork, The centre of the interior base is decorated with a central solar or marigold motif surrounded by a border of paan or betel-like leaves,
The base is flat and there is a barely-present low ring foot.
Indian metalwork during the Mughal period (1526-1858) was greatly influenced by the Islamic metal-craft of Persia (Dye, 2001, p. 399). The form of the bowl follows Persian prototypes that were used for the consumption of wine.
In all, this is an extraordinary bowl, showing myriad influences, and yet made for the Islamic market of northern India.
The bowl is in fine condition given its age. The silvering has extensive, age-related wear as might be expected.
Dye, J.M., The Arts of India: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Philip Wilson Publishers, 2001.
Haase, C.P., J, Kroger & U. Lienert, Oriental Splendour: Islamic Art from Private German Collections, Museum fur Kunst und Gewerbe Humberg, 1993.
Zebrowski, M., Gold, Silver & Bronze from Mughal India, Alexandria Press, 1997.