Mother-of-Pearl Powder Flask
This powder flask is decorated with mother-of-pearl, ivory and horn parquetry, and is highlighted with black lac. It is of European form with a rounded base and a tall, flared neck with a metal hook on either side. The neck is covered with a tall silver top in the form of a makara (mythical sea beast), and the lid is joined to the neck by a thin silver chain. The designs on either side of this powder flask include a stylised rosette on the rounded base, surrounded by bands of geometric-shaped parquetry.
This type of parquetry work was produced during the 19th century in the small town of Etawah in Kotah State, now part of Rajasthan. Examples were shown at the Calcutta International Exhibition of 1882-3, the Jeypore Exhibition of 1883 and the Colonial and Indian Exhibition of 1886. These objects were made by two or three families belonging to the Khatri caste and could be acquired in Etawah through the artist Sita Ram or in Kotah through dealers (as mentioned in Jaffer, p. 283). For further examples of Etawah powder flasks see Hales, p. 254, figs. 617 & 619, and The David Collection, Copenhagen, Accession Number 27/1981.
Hales, R. Islamic and Oriental Arms and Armour: A Lifetime’s Passion, Robert Hales, England, 2013.
Jaffer, A. Furniture from British India and Ceylon: A Catalogue of the Collection in the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Peabody Essex Museum, Timeless Books, India, 2001.