Enquiry about object: 7186

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    North Indian Silver Tilak Powder or Perfume Tray (Attardan)

    Northern India
    19th century

    length: 16.8cm, width: 16.5cm, height: approximately 10cm, weight: 509g



    UK art market

    – scroll down to see further images –

    This fine silver footed octagonal tray with a double-chamber container affixed, is from northern India.

    Such a tray was used to hold the red tilak powder used by Hindus to mark their foreheads as part of their daily puja or prayer rituals. It might also have been used to hold perfume.

    It stands on four domed feet. It has a fringe of silver bead tassels. The sides, which are decorated with eight silver flowers elevated on plain silver stems, slope upwards and cup the perfume container in the middle which also has a silver beaded fringe and eight ‘leaves’ each of which terminates with a pendant silver bead, which radiate from the perfume container.

    The interior of the tray is chased with tear-shaped motifs, flower scrolls, and boteh motifs.

    The top of the perfume container has a petal lid which is hinged. The mid-section of the container also is hinged and this too lifts to reveal a chamber.

    Perfumes in Mughal India were used not just to scent oneself but also for medicinal purposes. The most common type of perfume was attar of roses.

    Other than age-related minor wear and some very minor reattaching of some of the silver decorations, there are no losses, and the item is in very fine condition.


    Terlinden, C., Mughal Silver Magnificence, Antalga, 1987.

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