One of the most prized exotic materials to feature in the princely Kunstkammern were the shells of the turbo snails. Found in the Indian and Pacific oceans, the natural shiny and iridescent surface of the shells made a vivid impression on 16th and 17th century collectors as these were truly objects from another world.
With its distinctive veneer - probably a type of stylized lotus leaf - the present powder flask is typical of the production from the Gujarat region on the western coast of India. Mother-of-pearl furniture and objects were being produced here from the early 16th century and were being imported to Europe as early as the second quarter of the 16th century, as a well-documented basin and ewer in Dresden testifies. It is one of the few pieces that can be precisely dated, as it bears the silver-gilt-mounts of a Nuremberg goldsmith, circa 1530-40 (D. Syndram, Das Grüne Gewölbe zu Dresden, Munich, 1997, p. 76).