Lot 76

A magnificent repousse box decorated with a deeply cut tight scrolling floral pattern upon a textured background within a border, leading to the bottom edge of the box, inscribed with "A.M.P to Dr Butler 1874" on the edge.


Gross weight: 264.20 grams
Length: 14 cm


The Kutch region in Gujarat is known for having produced silverworks that hold value both in international markets and regional traditions and cultures, right from dinnerware and chandeliers to indigenous jewellery and accessories.

The silver industry in Kutch is assumed to have existed for centuries. However, silverware manufacturing and trade witnessed its prime years only during the British Raj. By 1858, "Indian silversmiths had adopted a new and unique manner of decorating objects for European use. Reflecting a true confluence of styles, the form and function of Raj silver still catered to colonial taste and demand but its exterior surfaces now conspicuously displayed indigenous decorative motifs. Consumer taste seemed to echo the shift in power." ("Islamic and Indian Art," Bonhams, London: Bonhams, 2012, online) The line of ornamented silverware known as O M Bhuj, crafted in the workshops of silversmith Oomersi Mawji, is considered to be one of the most highly regarded among them.

Mawji was born in Bhuj in present-day Gujarat in the 19th century and initially specialised in leather engraving and armour decoration before working exclusively in silver. He founded his first workshop around 1860 with the help of Maharao Deshalji II of Kutch, who remained a significant patron and supporter throughout Mawji's career. "During his lifetime - from his humble beginnings as a member of the cobbler's caste in Bhuj, in the region of Kutch in Gujarat - Oomersi Mawji became the most celebrated Indian silversmith during the Raj period, with a large international clientele... Today, scholars laud him as perhaps the greatest silversmith of the Nineteenth Century." ("A Rare Collection of Workshop Drawings from the Renowned Indian Silversmith, Oomersi Mawji," Marc J. Matz Antiques & Works of Art, online, accessed March 2012)

Mawji's silverware designs are distinguished by their unique maker's mark which reads 'O.M Bhuj'. O M Bhuj silver features a distinctive ornamental style from Kutch that comprises of scrolling foliage and floral designs intertwined with the detailed engraving of animals, human and mythological figures and creatures, as well as hunting scenes.

"Where the style of decoration on silverware in Cutch originated is uncertain... The fusion of both Islamic and Hindu imagery exhibited in the intricately carved stone windows of this structure could have inspired the scrolling decoration characteristic of Cutch silver. Further to this, the Dutch influence has also been noted in the appearance of repoussé border ornamentation on the majority of Cutch silverware. There are also resemblances to the 17th century decoration of Portuguese pottery, and distinctive similarities in the depiction of animal and bird figures with Persian decorations." ("Antique Indian Silver Oval Box, Oomersi Mawji, Bhuj, Kutch, India - Circa 1880," Joseph Cohen Antiques, online, accessed September 2021)

Mawji's silverware was widely recognised ever since the launch of his silverware firm Oomersi Mawji and Sons in Bhuj and Baroda. He was appointed as the court silversmith to the Maharaos of Kutch and Maharajas of Baroda as a result of the popularity and demand of his works. His royal clientele also supported and sponsored his ventures abroad - including the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1878, which marked the beginning of his international recognition and fame.

When Mawji passed away around 1890, his sons oversaw and sustained the silverware firm's production and trade through the 1930s, when the company ceased its operations. Despite its brief run, O M silver is still desired by many for its intricate and exclusive designs, as well as its high purity silver and unmatched craftsmanship.

Other similar works in: this auction  |  entire site

  Lot 76 of 109  

27-28 OCTOBER 2021

$1,760 - 2,435
Rs 1,30,000 - 1,80,000

Winning Bid
Rs 2,83,180
(Inclusive of Buyer's Premium)


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