This large and exceptional hookah mouthpiece is of superbly carved dark-green bloodstone. The bloodstone has small blood-red flecks all over its surface adding to its allure. (Bloodstone or heliotrope is a form of dark-green chalcedony with inclusions of iron oxide or red jasper. Historically, India is the main source for bloodstone.)
The grip has been carved with myriad diamond shapes in high relief. This rises to a gadrooned, onion-shaped nozzle for the mouth.
The mouthpiece has its origins in northern India. It is in excellent condition with deeply carved facets. It is also unusually large and sculptural
The mouthpiece follows the conventional baluster form of a waisted cylinder with a pear-shaped tip. Several examples of hardstone hookah mouthpieces are known. One is in the Kahilili Collection; another is in the al-Sabah Collection in Kuwait. These examples are smaller however.
According to Moura Cavalho (2010, p. 168) hookah mouthpieces needed to be detachable for practical and hygienic purposes – the mouthpiece needed to be cleaned with the removal of tar deposits.
See Lot 82, Sotheby’s London, ‘Arts of the Islamic World’, October 16, 2002, for a similar although smaller hookah mouthpiece ascribed to India.
Keane, M., Treasury of the World: Jewelled Arts of India in the Age of the Mughals – The Al-Sabah Collection Kuwait National Museum, Thames & Hudson, 2001.
Moura Carvalho, P., Gems and Jewels of Mughal India: Jewelled and Enamelled Objects from the 16th to 20th Centuries, The Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, Volume XVII, The Nour Foundation, 2010.