Pair of Mughal Gilt Glass Bottles
A pair of opaque glass bottles with polychrome gilt decoration of floral patterns and figurative scenes, probably representing particular stories. One bottle depicts a female holding a stringed instrument in her left hand whilst her right hand clutches a branch of a tree, a gesture that originates from the iconography of an ancient Indic nature spirit, yakshi; in an opposite panel a woman is portrayed with a child. The other bottle depicts a man seated in a throne chair and a standing woman. All figures are depicted in profile, set against dense gilt foliage. The bejewelled women are depicted in Indian costumes with detailed textile patterns whilst the turbaned man wears a long caftan with a tied belt. The composition is entirely Indian in style.
Square glass bottles of this type stem from Dutch and German examples known as case bottles, as they were stored in compartments within a box or case. These bottles were produced in the second half of the seventeenth century. Following the establishment of a trade factory in Gujarat in 1618, the Dutch maintained a strong presence in the region. Some case bottles even had caps with Dutch coins, identifying them as being made abroad in India.
Two very similar bottles dating from the 18th century are in The Victoria and Albert Museum, London, Accession Numbers VAM:1891a-1855 and VAM: 14-1867; illustrated in The Indian Heritage: Court Life and Arts Under Mughal Rule, London, 1982; The Al-Sabah Collection in the Kuwait National Museum, Accession Number LNS 82 G; and The Corning Museum of Glass, New York, Accession Number 59.1.583.
Literature: Carboni, S. Glass from Islamic Lands, Thames and Hudson, London, 2001.
Carboni, S. Glass of the Sultans. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2001.