This rare example of enamelled and silver-gilt portable smoking water-pipe or huqqah base is been finely engraved with typical Mughal dynasty floral designs with various playful exotic birds and solely enamelled with a combination of only two enameling techniques comprising opaque ultramarine blue and translucent (champlevé) light green colour enamelling.
This conjunction of variegated colours is characteristic of the earlier crafts of the city of Lucknow, dating back to the mid-eighteenth century.
During the 18th. and 19th. Centuries, the Nawabi capital at Lucknow, was the richest court of India.
Lucknow was markedly formed and influenced by different cultures, and had something that becomes particularly evident in this piece, that shows the influence of Persian, Ottoman and other European Christian Art centres i.e. Armenian Art for the cross like borders patterns which are used to divide the various decorated sections are typical of Christian Armenian Art also incorporating other enameling techniques, forms, designs and crafts from other parts of India practically seen in Deccani art.
Each of the cartouches is contained within borders displaying a characteristic motif of the nawabi enamel, a cross-pattern filled with ultramarine blue.
The decoration of the huqqa base features dancing and flying birds amidst scrolling floral motifs including bold lotus and iris blossoms, which is a programme seen throughout Mughal manuscripts and in Persian pieces, reminiscent of the Gol-o-Bulbul (nightingale and flower).
This item is particularly rare, and the decoration is matched by a series of pieces preserved in museums and collections that help to date it with security to the second half of the 18th century.