Ref 36007
 
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Silver
c.1890

Diameter at rim: 36 cm
Height: 42 cm
Weight: 4600 g

Madras, located in south eastern India, was one of the most significant cities in India under the British administration. The finest pieces of Madras silver were produced by Indian craftsmen working for European-run firms, unlike the silver produced in other regions of India which was crafted by independent craftsmen. The largest European firm was P. Orr & Sons of Madras; they were responsible for the encouragement of the 'swami' style of decoration. 'Swami'ornamentation depicts Hindu deities and mythological figures, and the style was a huge success in Europe and Great Britain. Despite European market trends, the silversmiths of Madras established a strong indigenous style which concentrated on the traditional illustration of their gods.

Swami designs were deep, and exhibited fine and intricate detailing, which enabled the specific figures to be easily identifiable. The Hindu tradition of religious art comprises the images of deities, illustrations of characters and episodes from epics like the Ramayana. The stories of the ten avatars of Vishnu are some of the most popular depictions in the silverware from this region.

The most frequent deities represented in Madras silverware are Vishnu, Shiva, Parvati, Brahma and Surya. Also depicted are Angi, Brahma, Durga, Ganesh, Indra, Kali, Kama, Parvati, Shiva, Vishnu, and Yama; most of the gods are riding their vahana, or their associated animal, in these depictions.




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