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Unusual Vaisnava (Vishnu) Copper Vessel

Karnataka or Andhra Pradesh, India
18th century

height: 17.5cm, width: 24cm, weight: 984g



UK art market

This impressive and unusual hammered copper vessel would have been used by a Vaisnava, possibly by a member of the Dasari community as a begging bowl, or for rituals and ceremonies.

It is of flattened, spherical form, with a wide, concave base, and a raised lip around the opening.

The front panel is repoussed in high relief with various symbols of Vishnu, including a tilaka-style mark on a tiered, lotus pedal pedestal two sides of which are made up with Vishnu’s feet (Visnupada).  On  one side of this is a chakra or discus on a tiered, petalled pedestal, and on the other is a conch shell similarly mounted.  This group is between an image of Garuda on one side and an image of Hanuman on the other, both with hands clasped in respectful obeisance.

The remainder of the vessel is decorated with prominent, pumpkin-like ribbing that is alternately engraved with vegetal scrolling. The four central ribs are all engraved and the two central ribs of these are engraved with deities amid the foliate scrolls.

The base is concave and decorated in high, tiered relief with a luxuriant and complex lotus or marigold flower.

The vessel has significant wear from use; its contours have been smoothed with handling and age. It has a fine patina and obvious wear.


Pers. comm., Pradeep  Chakravarthy, India.

Rawson, P., Tantra, Arts Council of Great Britain, 1971.

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