8523

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    Indian Bidri Carpet Weight (Mir-e-farsh)

    Deccan, India
    late 17th-early 18th century

    height: 12.8cm, width: 12.1cm, weight: 882g

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    Provenance

    private collection, UK.

    – scroll down to see further images –

    This carpet weight comprises an octagonal base rising to an eight-sided sphere with a bud-like finial which surmounts an eight-petalled flower. Overall, it has a pleasing, architectural form. Indeed, the form itself is unusual and more complex than most extant examples.

    It is decorated using the silver-inlaid Bidri technique – the silver motifs include three-petalled flowers and floral scrollwork.

    The weight has thick walls but is hollow.

    Such weights, used in sets, were called rather poetically mir-i-farsh or ‘slaves of the carpet’ and were placed not on carpets, but on the corners of light summer silk or cotton floor coverings, often embroidered, to hold them in place, which otherwise might be caught by light breezes from open windows and terraces. Such coverings were spread over the marble floors of palaces and also the tombs of Muslim saints and other mausoleums. Not all were made of bidri. Others were made of stone, brass, bronze and even glass.

    Related examples are illustrated in Zebrowski (1997).

    Bidriware originated in the city of Bidar in the Deccan. It is cast from an alloy of mostly zinc with copper, tin and lead. The vessels so decorated are overlaid or inlaid with silver, but also sometimes brass and gold. A paste that contains sal ammoniac is then applied which turns the alloy dark black but leaving the silver, brass or gold unaffected.

    The example here has losses to the silver inlay. The weight is old and its age is obvious. It is a fine piece, with an unusual shape.

    References

    Mittal, J., Bidri Ware and Damascene Work: in Jagdish & Kamla Mittal Museum of Indian Art, Jagdish & Kamla Mittal Museum or Art, 2011.

    Okada, A., L’Inde des Prices: La Donation Jean et Krishna Riboud, Tresors du Musee Guimet, 2000.

    Stronge, S., Bidri Ware: Inlaid Metalwork from India, Victoria & Albert Museum, 1985.

    Zebrowski, M., Gold, Silver & Bronze from Mughal India, Alexandria Press, 1997.

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