This very fine and rare ewer is of heavy, high-grade silver. Of squat form, with a flared foot, a domed, hinged lid, and an ‘S’-shaped spout, it has been chased all over with Mughal stylised poppy motifs. Such an item would have been used in a palace or aristocratic home in Mughal India. The interior appears to have traces of gilding.
The spout curves but has six flattened sides, and is engraved with a bird amid foliage and flowers.
The domed lid rises to a double eight-pointed star chased to the top from which a bud-like finial emerges. The finial too has been chased.
Such a small ewer might have been used to serve water, or might have also been used to serve opium water or wine.
The unadorned chasing is very similar to a well-known and much-published silver beaker and cover in London’s Victoria & Albert Museum attributed to 17th century northern India. This piece is chased with Mughalesque stylised carnations and has a gilded interior. (See the V&A beaker here.)
Zebrowski (1997, p. 84) says of the V&A beaker that the hatched ground within the excavated designs was most probably meant to contain champleve enamels, which were either never applied, or which might have fallen out, but the piece was judged to be sufficiently exquisite for it to be retained. The same can be said of this piece.
The ewer here is in excellent condition. It is of very robust construction and is surprisingly heavy for its size.
- The last two images below show (1) the V&A silver beaker referred to above, and (2) a dark green nephrite jade wine ewer and cover inlaid with gold and enamel also in the V&A and attributed to Mughal India, circa 1700. Importantly, the jade ewer has the same shape and form as our silver example here.
Terlinden, C., Mughal Silver Magnificence, Antalga, 1987.
Zebrowski, M., Gold, Silver & Bronze from Mughal India, Alexandria Press, 1997.