Indian pilgrim flask
Mother-of-pearl mounted in brass, silver ring added at the base of the neck
India, Probably Gujarat for the Deccan, Late 16th – Early 17th century
Height: 16; Width: 14,5 cm
Provenance: formerly in a private French collection
This rare pilgrim flask is a very precious and luxurious object probably made in the Gujarat region for the Deccani market. The shape of pilgrim flasks derived of the leather examples. Numerous examples made in brass are known in the Deccan region. Unlike most examples of objects using mother-of-pearl this piece has been carved very carefully. Here the maker has chosen to use full mother-of-pearl pieces to create the body of the piece, the refinement of this object can also be seen in hidden places as the interior of the foot decorated with small elements of mother-of-pearl. This piece is closely related to another luxurious pilgrim flask of the same scale shown on a portrait of Sultan Ibrahim Adil Shah bringing presents to a Sufi saint, painted by Ali Riza in Bijapur circa 1620-1630, see: Haidar, N. N. & Sardar, M. (2015) Sultans of Deccan India 1500 – 1700 – Opulence and Fantasy, New Haven & London: Yale University Press, p. 123, Cat. 46.
For a painting by Muhammad Ali depicting a pilgrim flask with a related shape, see: Beach, M. C. & Fischer, E., Goswamy, B. N. & Britschgi, J. (2011) Masters of Indian Painting – 1650 – 1900, Zurich: Artibus Asiae Publishers, p. 283, Fig.4.
For a small mother-of-pearl Gujarat ewer, see also: Calza, G. C. (2013) Akbar: The Great Emperor of India 1542-1605, Milan: Skira, III.17.