This huqqa base, noticeably larger than almost all other spherical examples, was almost certainly made in the imperial Mughal workshop. The techniques are very laborious, each stone having its own deep straight-sided compartment separately fashioned rather than just using a hammered depression in the main ground metal. The gauge of gold used is thick, with no apparent filler artificially increasing the strength (and apparent weight). But it is the design that links it closely to items made for the Mughal court. The use of this tone of red ground as a background to large floral sprays is immediately reminiscent of the Peacock Throne, removed from Delhi by Nadir Shah and now in the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul (Zebrowski, 1997, pl.55, p.73). The other main colors are also the same, a dark green and, most unusually, a translucent lime green.
The base of the huqqa also echoes the design on a dish also taken by Nader Shah from Delhi and in this instance sent to the Russian Empress in St. Petersburg (idem, pl.33). The whole base is a single large open lotus flower. Now lacking much of the enamel, it must have been very powerful when first made. The flowers on the main panels do not have the naturalism of those of the Shah Jahan period, but the strength of design, and the lack of minor borders, one field generally going straight into the next, is indicative of a date in the later 17th century.
Smoking was introduced to the Mughal court by the Europeans via the Arab world and thence to the Deccan. The famous extended quote of Asad Beg in his Wiqaya’ written in the early 17th century gives a detailed account of how he brought both the material and the equipment from Bijapur to the Mughal court in Delhi.