This very elegant and tall rosewater sprinkler is composed almost entirely of silver filigree.
It has an oval, pierced foot; a flattened, pear-shaped body; an elongated, tapering neck; and a flower-like finial through which the scented water was emitted. The finial is composed of three tiers of filigree ‘petals’.
The sprinkler also has a delightful filigree acanthus-leaf fringe over its shoulder.
The central tear-shaped cartouche on each side of the body comprises a looser-form filigree arrayed as a floral-like trellis. (Elsewhere, the filigree comprises a series of concentric circles in fine, tight curls, within scrolling arabesques. This allows one to see right through the body, thereby creating an illusion – the body seems to be completely porous and yet it continues to emit water. The effect is achieved by there being a silver tube hidden around the interior sides of the body which serves as the well of the sprinkler.
Related silver filigree sprinklers are in the collection of the Hermitage, St Petersburg. These date to between 1714 and 1750 and once belonged to Catherine the Great. They were considered part of her ‘Indian’ toilet set.
It is likely that this sprinkler was produced in India for wealthy and probably princely local clients. It cannot be ruled out that it might also be the product of silversmiths operating in the Dutch East Indies, producing such work for export to the Indian market.
The sprinkler is of museum quality and in fine condition. It sits flatly, without rocking, and there are no obvious losses to the filigree. It was acquired in the UK and most probably has been in the UK since colonial times.
Jordan, A. et al, The Heritage of Rauluchantim, Museu de Sao Roque, 1996.
Piotrovsky, M. et al, Silver: Wonders from the East – Filigree of the Tsars, Lund Humphries/Hermitage Amsterdam, 2006.
Terlinden, C., Mughal Silver Magnificence, Antalga, 1987.
Zebrowski, M., Gold, Silver & Bronze from Mughal India, Alexandria Press, 1997.