Enquiry about object: 8812

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    Thai Gilded Niello Bowl

    second half of 19th century

    diameter: 14.4cm, height: 7.6cm, weight: 187g



    private collection, UK.

    – scroll down to see further images –

    This  silver bowl profusely covered with gold niello work is decorated with typically Thai floral motifs, based on what Bromberg (2019, p. 136) has identified as the cotton rosemallow flower pattern (lai phuttan).

    The bowl is a frequently encountered form in traditional Thai silverwork, and is perhaps most associated in Thailand with the Buddhist monk’s alms bowl, which is lower and wider than the Burmese counterpart.

    Niello is a process whereby designs are repoussed onto a silver object. The exterior recesses of the design are then brushed with borax and then filled with a metallic enamel which usually comprises copper, silver and sulphur heated together. The item is then heated so that the silver and the enamel fuse. After cooling, the surface is filed back and polished to reveal the silver surface. In the instance here, the exposed silver was then gilded.

    The bowl here shows obvious age. There are minor losses to the niello enamelling and there is contact wear to the gilding on the base of the bowl, as might be expected with a bowl of considerable age.


    Bromberg, P., Thai Silver and Nielloware, River Books, 2019.

    Naengnoi Punjabhan, Silverware in Thailand, Rerngrom Publishing, 1991.

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