Container for Spices (Primary Title)

Unknown (Artist)

19th century
Indian
Containers
Metalwork
enamel, gilded-silver alloy, gold foil or leaf, solder
Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow, India
Overall: 5 3/4 × 6 1/2 in. (14.61 × 16.51 cm)
68.8.140
This complex footed container is fashioned from more than fifty pieces of gilded, carved, and enameled silver sheet. Containers of this type were probably used to hold with cosmetics or the aromatic spices used to make pan, a popular Indian digestive. The form of the lids on its six compartments suggests the latter use: they are heart-shaped like the betel leaf in which pan’s spices are wrapped. The flamboyant floral decorative covering the container’s exterior is typical of that favored by the princely rulers of Oudh (Awadh), who had their capital at Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh. The technique of its champlevé enameling, as well as it distinctive palette—green, blues, purplish red, orange, and yellow—are also characteristic of the sumptuous creations of Lucknow’s enamel artists.
Nasli and Alice Heeramaneck Collection, Gift of Paul Mellon
Dye, Joseph M. The Arts of India: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. London: Philipp Wilson, 2001. (cat. no. 175, pp. 402, 518-519)
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

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