Ref 35981
 
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Silver
c.1890

Height: 24 cm
Weight: 501 g

Cutch in north western India is virtually an island geographically; due to this location, it developed independently from the rest of India before the 19th century and prospered both politically and culturally.

The longstanding tradition of silversmithing in Cutch developed successfully in both a commercial and artistic manner between the last part of the 19th century and the early 20th century. The "Cutch style" of silver decoration first emerged in the early 19th century and by the end of the century it had developed into a distinctive form. Where the style of decoration on silverware in Cutch originated is uncertain. Some writers point to the 15th century mosque of Ahmedabad as a major source of inspiration. 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.

The attractive ornamentation of scrolling foliage intertwined with animals, birds and hunting scenes was the most venerated style of Indian silverware in the late 19th century. Also aiding the success of the Cutch style were the supportive efforts made by the Raos of Cutch ensuring examples of the region's silverware were displayed in every possible international exhibition.

One of the reasons the Cutch artisans were capable of such intricate detailing was because the high quality of the silver used, usually between 95- 98% silver, meaning that the material was softer and easier to manipulate. Due partly to its geographical closeness, Bombay was the hub for the production, sale and export of Cutch style silverware.

The magnificent silver of Cutch owes much of its popularity to one virtuoso silversmith, Oomersi Mawji, whose grasp of the symbiosis of form and decoration, together with his superlative technique made his work internationally famous and enabled the other Cutch silversmiths to successfully market their wares.

The interest in Cutch designs subsequently flourished in London and many pieces were commissioned by companies such as the London stores Liberty & Co. and Proctor & Co. This exposure to a British clientele ensured the prosperity and popularity of the Cutch style amongst European customers from the late 19th century to the present day.




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