18th Century Mughal Bronze Aftaba: Northern India

18th Century Mughal Bronze Aftaba: Northern India

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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Indian Subcontinent: Pre 1800: Item # 1206291
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This fine bronze ewer or kettle (aftaba) dates to the 18th Century in Mughal India.

It is of typical form and good weight. It measures: height: 26cm, width: 24cm.

It has a prominent faceted spout along with its original lid with a bud-like finial, an 'S' shaped handle which has a stylized lion head at one end and a lotus bud finial at the other. It stands on four short feet.

The flattened, globular pear shaped body tapers to a long neck. The body has been cast with raised cloud or foliage borders to the top and bottom, The design work on the body is of better quality than usually seen. The body, lid and spout have been engraved overall with repeated stylized vegetable or poppy motifs. The lid has similar patterns.

Ewers of this type originated in Persia and the Middle East. Typical Islamic ewers comprised a central chamber to which a spout, foot, handle and neck were attached. They permitted water to flow - notations in the Koran described flowing water as 'clean'.

Ewers were introduced to India by Muslim invaders during the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries. Later Indian inspired designs became more curvaceous and many were decorated  with lush plant and floral motifs.

In India, local Muslims used such vessels for hand washing. They became a practical tool of hospitality, being used to welcome visitors by pouring scented water over the hands and feet and into a basin, and took on a great variety of shapes and types whilst adhering to the basic ewer form.

This example is in excellent condition. There are no repairs, splits or dents. as mentioned, the lid is original – usually the lid is missing or replaced.

A slightly larger (39.4 cm tall) sold at Sotheby's on October 5, 2011 for 6250 British pounds( $9784.00 in US dollars) (lot 265) . It had much less surface detailing. ( )

Provenance: The southern California art market prior to 1980.

Reference: Zebrowski, M., Gold, Silver & Bronze from Mughal India, Alexandria Press, 1997.