This attractive silver flask (surai or surahi) is from colonial Lucknow. It is based on those vessels used in Mughal India and the rest of the north to hold precious liquids such as wines or liquors.
The example here is particularly pleasing on account of the broad bands of parcel-gilding (gold plating) which provide a striking contrast with the silver. The original double chain is also unusual, comprising as it does of rectangular bars linked by silver loops. This too is gilded. (An Indian surai or surahi with a similar chain is illustrated in Terlinden (1987, p. 115).
The flask has a tall, narrow neck which rises from a flattened, spherical body which sits on a low ring foot. A domed lid sits in the mouth at the top of the neck and this is chased with acanthus leaf motifs and topped with a bud-like finial. These are mirrored by a similar but broad band around the shoulder of the vessel.
The neck and body are chased with fine coriander plant and flower patterns.
Overall, this is a delightful, fine piece in excellent condition. It is without dents, repairs or splits. The flask sits well and evenly, and the lid fits tightly.
The flowers & leaves of the coriander plant on which the motifs for this piece partly are derived.
Dehejia, V., Delight in Design: Indian Silver for the Raj, Mapin, 2008.
Terlinden, C., Mughal Silver Magnificence, Antalga, 1987.
Wilkinson, W.R.T., Indian Silver 1858-1947, 1999.