This is an extraordinary item is a water vessel or a ritual lota with 22 spouts, used in Tamil Nadu for ritual dance ceremonies called karagam, which involves balancing the vessel on the dancer’s head.
As well as having so many spouts, the vessel is embossed with a trident – a symbol of Shiva – suggesting that it as used in tantric-type rituals associated with Shiva, one of the principal deities of Hinduism. The trident represents Shiva’s three aspects as the creator, preserver and destroyer.
There is also a single, dedicatory line of Tamil script that runs around the shoulder of the vessel.
The vessel is in excellent condition. All the spouts are present and the surface has a varying red-grey-brown patina. It is a wonderful piece with excellent sculptural properties.
Zebrowski, M., Gold, Silver & Bronze from Mughal India, Alexandria Press, 1997.