This set of eight teacups and matching saucers is of heavy-gauge silver that has been chased with Islamic-inspired Kutch floral and leaf scrolls against a tooled ground. Each piece is heavy in the hand; perhaps surprising so. Overall, the set weighs more than two kilograms.
The set is typically Kutch in motifs other than the fact that the scrolling leaf and flowerwork is contained within panels. This extra detail is typical of the Karachi style of silverwork that developed. Wilkinson (1999) observes that as a result of the 1899 famine in Kutch many silversmiths left Kutch and settled in Karachi where they re-established their workshops. They soon developed a style that is distinctive from, although similar to, the work that continued to be done in Kutch.
J. Manakrai was one such silversmith who left Kutch in or around 1899 for a better life in Karachi. He re-established his silver workshop in Karachi and by 1909 won a silver medal in Lahore at an Indian art exhibition.
Each piece is in fine condition and is free of dents or repairs. Each piece is stamped to the base with ‘J Manikrai & Sons’ plus some pseudo hallmarks and the word ‘silver’.
Dehejia, V., Delight in Design: Indian Silver for the Raj, Mapin, 2008.
Wilkinson, W.R.T., Indian Silver 1858-1947, 1999.