Enquiry about object: 4831

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    Unusual South Indian Silver Beaker

    Madras, India
    circa 1870

    height: 10.3cm, diameter: 9.5cm, weight: 342g



    UK art market

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    This beaker, of high-grade silver, is highly unusual and possibly unique – certainly we are unaware of any other like that has been published or otherwise. It comprises a plain silver beaker with tapering sides, with an outer, pierced covering or sheath that fits tightly over the inner beaker. The inner beaker and the covering are not fixed and can be separated. The outer covering has been made from two halves that have been carefully hinged together.

    The two halves that comprise the outer covering have been similarly decorated with gods, goddesses and other deities and winged angels among cusped arches and other architectural features.

    The decoration is in keeping with the style of silverwork that emerged in the 19th century in Madras in South India. Much of the work undertaken in Madras was for the local colonial market. It is quite possible that this beaker was made for the local Indian market. The purity of the silver, the form and the decoration suggest that it might have had a Hindu puja (prayer) use.

    The base has been etched with what might be a maker’s or a later owner’s mark.

    The condition is excellent. Other than for the face of one deity on one side of the beaker which is slight crushed in, there is no other obvious damage or loss. Overall, it is a very unusual and pleasing piece.


    Wilkinson, W.R.T., Indian Silver 1858-1947, 1999.

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