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This set of six silver bowls and six matching silver plates are Malay in terms of their function and decoration. It is likely that such bowls were commissioned for use in conjunction with some kind of ritual celebration – most probably a wedding. Such a set need to have served a specific purpose. Perhaps the bowls were used simply as finger bowls to hold water for rinsing. Perhaps they were used to hold food. They might also have been used to hold henna to decorate the bridal parties hands.
The sides and bases of the bowls are chased with typically Malay, Islamic-inspired palemette motifs and petal borders.
The plates with scalloped edges which are both reminiscent of a lotus flower but also of a star or sun-burst motif are similarly decorated with palmette and geometric motifs.
The silver used in the sets is an alloy which has been hammered out as finely to make the silver stretch as far as possible. This is typical of much Malay silver, particularly that used for weddings: Malay weddings often were enormous affairs with hundreds of guests. Commissioning the necessary sets of silver would have been a very expensive process unless the silver was hammered to be as thin as possible.
Ling Roth, H., Oriental Silverwork: Malay and Chinese, Truslove & Hanson, 1910.