• Art of the Islamic and Indian  auction at Christies

    Sale 7751

    Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds

    6 October 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 191

    A PAIR OF SILVER-GILT SWEET SMELLING BIRDS

    OTTOMAN TURKEY, PERIOD OF MAHMUD II (1808-1839 AD)

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    A PAIR OF SILVER-GILT SWEET SMELLING BIRDS
    OTTOMAN TURKEY, PERIOD OF MAHMUD II (1808-1839 AD)
    Each bird formed naturalistically with engraved feathers and plumage, one with pierced eyes and a hinge fitted on the back, the other with pierced beak, the head unscrewing from the body, each bird perching on a stylistically rendered tree springing from a base moulded with hills, foliage and buildings, each bird in original red leather fitted case, some losses to the gilding
    6 3/8in. (16.2cm.) high (2)


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    Although these elegant birds seem identical, slight differences in their structure and construction give indications as to how they were used. The hinged head of one of the birds pivots and reveals a shallow copper container which could have been used as a hearth for an incense-burner. The two pierced eyes would have then been the holes from which the smoke would drift. The second bird, with its head tightly screwed to the body and its finely pierced beak, is very likely to be a scent dropper.

    A silver-gilt incense-burner bearing the tughra of Mahmud II from a private collection can be compared to our example by its structure and its very naturalistic aspect. In the shape of two acorns of which the nut is hinged and pivots above the body, it rises from a very similar parcel-gilt moulded and incised stand with foliage and fruits (Garo Kurkman, Ottoman Silvermarks, Istanbul, 1996, p. 188). However, these uncommon birds clearly stand out from contemporary production through their refined quality and originality.

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    Provenance

    Sotheby's, 15 October 1986, lot 197