A Collection of Eleven Rare Probably Indian Glass Rosewater Sprinklers Mounted With Silver Mouthpieces, Kapadvanj Peninsula-Gujarat, Circa 18th Century.

This lot is made of two combined collections, the first is glass rosewater sprinklers, and the second is a collection of fine and elaborate silver mouthpieces.
The location where these sprinklers were originally made is still debatable. While some argue that they were made in Europe, particularly England, for the Indian market because of the high quality and bubble free glass characteristic of European production. This may indicate that they are of a European origin although there are examples of fine quality glass that was produced in India, particularly during the Moghul rule. Others suggest that high quality glass was also produced in India, probably in the Kapadvanj Peninsula - Gujarat. What supports this argument is the fact that the sprinklers have unfinished rims and European manufacturers would not allow that at that period.
This shape of the glass rosewater sprinklers was popular in Moghul and Deccani India, as in most Islamic countries. It is of a typical Muslim influence on India that was introduced after the Muslim conquest.
The globular body of the bottle has a long tapered neck that ends in a small opening, as well as a low applied foot. Two bulges appear near the base of the neck. The collection comprises eleven sprinklers each of a spherical form on short feet with long tapering necks, some gadrooned with a twisted body and necks. The collection comprises three clear sprinklers, five different shades of blue: navy, cobalt, medium cobalt, lapis and sky, a pair green: emerald and pine green and honey colour sprinklers.
The second collection is the eleven fine repousse silver mouthpieces dating back from the 17th-19th century, some of which are all plated with high karat gold water others are parcel-gilt and decorated with the following main three features:-
The first group is simply decorated with various naturalistic vegetation, geometrical and floral designs. Some of them are encrusted with precious and semi precious stones. This group was mainly made in the northern and central parts of India including Moghul and the Deccan areas.
The second group is finely decorated with other naturalistic features including floral designs and animals such as the depiction of a man on the back of an elephant, elephant heads, birds and lion heads. This group also probably was made in the northern and central parts of India during the Moghul and Deccan periods.
The third group is decorated with a combination of various designs including mythical creatures such as the Sinha or Mukha, Yali or Makara, coming probably from central and southern India.
A mouthpiece is a part of the hookah set, which usually comprises six pieces, the base, the stem the bowl, the lid, the snake-shaped tube (commonly known as the snake) and the mouthpiece, which is attached to the snake-shaped tube. The mouthpiece is detachable from the tube and individuals who smoke the hookah each have their own piece that they use rather than use a common mouthpiece, which is more hygienic.
This collection of eleven Repousse silver mouthpieces mounted on the glasswater sprinklers were made in various parts of India. The use of mythical creatures in the making of these mouthpieces depicting shapes and designs from the Tamil Nadu region indicate that they probably come from central and southern regions such as the Deccans and Tanjore. The depiction of stylised heads of Sinha (or Mukha) and Yali (or Makara) has been used in some of the mouthpieces in our collection.

The Sinha (or Mukha) in Indian literature means a lion head, or lion face. It is usually depicted with a protruding tongue, bulging eyes and sharp teeth, and used in decorating fixed and portable objects of art, mostly as finials in canes, staffs and weapons such swords, daggers, etc.

The Lion in Eastern art is a very powerful sign and was normally associated with royalties.

The Yali is a hybrid mythical creature that is also used extensively in Indian Art. It is seen in many Hindu temples and it may be portrayed as part lion and part elephant or part horse, but it can also be portrayed as part lion and part griffin with some bird like features. The Yali’s neck is normally covered with stylized lion’s mane. It represents something wicked or vicious, and is associated with the Indian gods Vishnu and Kali. The Yali ferocious mythical beast is usually depicted with horned bulging eyes separated by a crest to the forehead and the mouth is usually wide open with a protruding and curling tongue and sharp Indian crocodile-shaped fangs. The Yali beast is found in Indian paintings and architectural temple sculptures and is often depicted dwarfing the humans who oppose them in combat situations or sometimes depicted with humans riding the Yali as an expression of mankind struggle over the elements and forces of nature which are represented by the Yali.

The Makara is depicted in the Hindu mythology as a sea creature. It is generally depicted as half terrestrial animal of which the frontal part is a large crocodile like head with jaws wide open swallowing a stag, a deer or an elephant. The hind part is usually depicted as a fish or seal tail.


With frequent usage, the tops and necks of the sprinklers may get chipped or damaged while filling or using the bottle. For that reason it was a common practice to add metallic tops to those glass sprinklers or finials either for additional protection or to cover a damaged top or neck. In our collection, it was rather a clever idea for the previous owners or collectors to mount the bottles with readily mouthpieces previously made for smoking.
Our lot is rare in the sense that this type of collection normally comes in low numbers: two, three, or four maximum. To come in eleven is very rare. Sprinklers were made originally in different heights, colour, shape and sizes, bearing in mind that they were mouth-blown glass.
For very similar examples please see Islamic & Indian Art sale at Bonham’s Auctioneers, London, Bond Street, on the 19th of April 2016, Sold Lot No. 200 page 139.
For similar examples, please see the Al-Sabah collection, Dar al-attar, al-Islamiyyah, Kuwait national museum, LNS 299 G (Cat. no. 143), LNS 301 G (Cat. no. 144).
References:
Glass of the Sultans, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Corning Museum of Glass, Yale University Press, Stefano Carboni & David Whitehouse with contribution by Robert H. Brill and William Gudenrath. Lot 143, 144 p. 289-290.

Condition: Excellent and intact. Most sprinklers have been reduced in height to mount the mouthpieces on top so that the entire collection is roughly of the same height.

Dimensions:- Tallest including silver mounts 31 cm high.
Smallest including silver mounts 21 cm high.
  • Identification Number: 165


A Collection of Eleven Rare Probably Indian Glass Rosewater Sprinklers Mounted With Silver Mouthpieces, Kapadvanj Peninsula-Gujarat, Circa 18th Century.

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