In overall aesthetic, these doors recall the decoration of the canopy of the tomb of Salim Chishti in Fatehpur Sikri. The decoration of the cenotaph was carried out by Gujarati craftsmen between 1570 and 1584. Gujarat is first recorded as the centre of mother-of-pearl work in 1502 when King of Melinde, on the East Coast of Africa, presented Vasco da Gama with a bedstead of Cambay, wrought with gold and mother of pearl, a very beautiful thing” (quoted in Amin Jaffer, Luxury Goods from India. The Art of the Indian Cabinet-Maker, London, 2002, p.22). As well as being made for export, the material quickly also became favoured at the Mughal court. In 1616 Sir Thomas Roe observed at the emperor’s court near Agra, ‘a throwne of mother of pearle borne on two pilla[r]s raysd on earth’ and at celebrations for nowruz, he saw among the decorations a square ‘pavilion’ of ‘wood, inlayd with mother of pearle’. Again these are likely to have been the work of artisans from Gujarat (Jaffer, op.cit., p.36). It seems that production of mother-of-pearl inlaid works continued there until at least the late 19th Century.
A similar pair of mother-of-pearl inlaid doors were sold at Sotheby’s 24 October 2007, lot 219.