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    Sale 7615

    Art of The Islamic And Indian Worlds

    7 October 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 230

    A GROUP OF SIX MUGHAL GILT GLASS BOTTLES

    PROBABLY GUJARAT, WEST INDIA, 18TH CENTURY

    Price Realised  

    A GROUP OF SIX MUGHAL GILT GLASS BOTTLES
    PROBABLY GUJARAT, WEST INDIA, 18TH CENTURY
    Each square in section, tapering at the shoulder to a narrow, short cylindrical neck, the four sides with alternating gilded decoration, two forming floral bouquets emerging from a vase and with birds above and two with pavilions within leafy landscapes, the shoulder with dense foliate design and the neck with vertical stripes, each section with plain gilt border and repeating chevron design, each bottle with cork stopper with silver finial, one bottle with small breakage in one corner of the shoulder
    Each 5 3/8in. (13.7cm.) high (6)


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    This set of six bottles are from a known group sometimes called case bottles or gin bottles - their shape recalling that of taller German and Dutch bottles that were held within a fitted box. It had previously been suggested that the bottles were probably intended to be in sets of six or eight, and it is likely the painted scenes within such a set related to each other (Carboni, Glass from Islamic Lands: The Al-Sabah Collection, Kuwait National Museum, London, 2001, p.389). The appearance of this group confirms this theory.

    In his discussion of a group of three of these bottles in the Al-Sabah Collection in Kuwait, Stefano Carboni remarks on a close Dutch connection with this type of bottle. Dutch influence remained strong in Gujarat well into the 18th century, and several other examples are capped by a Dutch coin that was minted to identify produce imported from abroad (Stefano Carboni, op. cit., pp.388-90, cat. 106a-c). One such bottle in the Victoria & Albert Museum, catalogued by Susan Stronge, is published in The Indian Heritage: Court Life and Arts under Mughal Rule, London 1982, no. 396, p.126. Stronge says that three other examples in the Victoria and Albert Museum, all acquired in 1867 from the same collection, are also capped by the same Dutch coin.

    Carboni recounts that a Gujarati craftsman named Ram Singh Malam had learnt his glassmaking skills during three separate trips to Europe, the first being to the Netherlands, and was encouraged by Maharao Lakha, the ruler of Kutch (r.1741-60), to open a glassmaking factory in the town of Bhuj on his return (Carboni, 2001, p. 389).

    These bottles are made in two-part moulds, that is to say, two parts of triangular cross-section, the seams being in opposite corners which were then painted over to conceal them. (Marilyn Jenkins, Islamic Glass: A Brief History, The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, Fall 1986, no.51, Carboni op cit 2001, p.389). With the other two corners likewise painted and a cusped arch linking each with its neighbour, the four sides become separate panels for decoration within a continuous arcade, with the standard pattern for decoration being that figural scenes alternate with panels of floral decoration. It is unclear whether the glass was imported from Europe, but it is accepted that the painting is purely of Indian origin. This combination of European glass technique, Chinese design in the landscape scenes, and Indian execution of the painting is an indication of the important role India played in world sea trade at this period.

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