The intricacy of the work on these vessels is such that one only has an idea of the complexity and detail after a considerable period of study. The architectural interlaced arcaded bands or cusped ogival outlines of the panels overlay a completely separate structure of asymmetrically scrolling vine. It is this latter vegetation which supports the animals, fish, birds and other creatures, each of which happens to be in the centre of the panel formed by the upper lattice.
The shape of the tazzas derives directly from a European shape. Common in England and elsewhere in the late 16th and into the early 17th century, the form of the foot is particularly characteristic. While there are bowls which show some similarities, it has been less easy to find the European origin of the form. Contemporaneous silver mounted Chinese porcelain bowls seem to be the closest in shape. India however provides more comparable shapes with the spherical form found here, but not normally of this size (M. Zebrowski, Gold, Silver and Bronze from Mughal India, London, 1997, pl.503 for example). The pronounced ball finial however is much more European in feel, being a particular feature of German silver of the second half of the seventeenth century. If these were made within the European tradition they would originally have been a part of a particularly elaborate toilet set which would probably have had other smaller items made en suite. No Indian toilet set of this period has survived so we cannot be sure of their original purpose.
A remarkable gold Goa stone holder which had descended through an English family since the 18th century has recently been acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art (inv. no. 2004.244a-c; published Bonhams, London, 16 October 2003, lot 349). That piece offers by far the closest comparison in decorative style. There the design was more three-dimensional with both the ribs and the animals being in the round, but the structure was identical: an ogival lattice overlay scrolling vine and enclosed a variety of animals. Placing the Goa stone holder and our bowls and covers more precisely within India however is more difficult. There are almost no comparable items that have survived, and certainly nothing on this scale that has been published. The catalogue entry on the Goa stone holder suggested Bombay, Rajastan or Gujerat as an origin. The strength of the European influence seen here coupled with the lack of European settlements in from the coast in the 17th century makes Gujerat or possibly Bombay the most probable origin.