Batavian Silver, An Extremely Rare Silver Betel Nut Leaves Holder (Bunga,Tepak Sirih) probably Batavia, Indonesia, early 17 Century.

Identification Number: 33


Of a conical shape decorated with repousse technique depicting a delicate band of scrolling stems issuing lotus, palmettes and buds designs.
Objects of exceptionally high quality like our present example were made in the early 17 centaury for the very Wealthy Elite in Indonesia and was most probably a personal property of a very Wealthy Royal Member or probably the Sultan himself, like the Rosewater Sprinkler which was found on the below study (Royal Gifts from Indonesia), or Possibly was given as a Present to a very High-ranking Individual or a European Dignitary.
The Base bares a Dutch Mark.
This type of decorating with large flowers and small booms, was very popular in the 17th-18th centuries, and were used in both Batavia and Ceylon, and was executed on both furniture and metal work and it was called the Custwerk (Costal Wears), and believed to had been made by Indian craftsmen working in Batavia and Colombo.

The techniques used by the Malay subcontinent craftsmen for decorating silver were: repousse or embossing, chasing, engraving, filigree and niello. On our present example the technique used was repuosse or embossing, in this method of ornamentation the sheet metal is hammered and punched from the inside and the decoration appears in raised relief on the outer surface of the object. On embossed work, the silver is often blackened with soot and oil or with sulphur.
A final polish of the decorated surface brightens the relief leaving the background dark in contrast.
Thus the polish pattern, which reflects the light, seems even higher in contrast to the darkened background.
Aesthetically this type of ornamentation produces a special effect in the surface of the relief, appears to move as if to catch the light.
For an Identical item please see, Asian Art and Dutch Taste, Waanders Uitgevers Zwolle Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, by Jan Veeenendaal, 158-159, pages 106-107.
For a similar technique, see lot no. (46), Silver Rosewater Sprinklers, illustrated in the Royal Gifts From Indonesia, Historical Bonds with the House of Orange-Nassau, (1600-1938) reference book,
For more examples also see, lot no. (1) a pair of Silver Rosewater Sprinklers, illustrated at the Silver guide to the Collections, the National Museum of Singapore

Condition:- exceptionally good order
15 cm. height
12 * 6 cm. diam. largest point to narrowest point to top
7 *4.2 cm. diam. Largest point to narrowest point to base