A fine silver and brass inlaid alloy Bidri Huqqa Base Bidar, Deccan, mid 17th Century
Lot 214A
A fine silver and brass inlaid alloy Bidri Huqqa Base Bidar, Deccan, mid 17th Century
Sold for £12,500 (US$ 21,373) inc. premium
Auction Details
A fine silver and brass inlaid alloy Bidri Huqqa Base Bidar, Deccan, mid 17th Century
Lot Details
A fine silver and brass inlaid alloy Bidri Huqqa Base
Bidar, Deccan, mid 17th Century
the body of rounded form with narrow truncated and slightly flaring neck, decorated with a pattern of bold silver flowers against a ground of wavy brass lines, the shoulder with a band of trailing floral vines between borders of linked flowerheads, an undulating foliate motif frieze below a moulded ring with chevron design, a further neck ring with repeating foliate motifs with a band of smaller flowers and brass lines above, the foot a later addition
20.5 cm. high

Footnotes

  • A huqqa base with almost identical decoration to this lot, and currently in the Cincinnati Art Museum in Ohio (inv. no. 1985.164), is illustrated in Mark Zebrowski, Gold, Silver and Bronze from Mughal India, London, 1997, ill. 377, pg. 231. The distinctive silver flowers appear to float amidst the wavy brass pattern symbolising water. Zebrowski compares the decoration to patterns found on Deccani textiles and manuscripts of the same period.
    Another huqqa base with a comparable inlaid water pattern is described and illustrated in Susan Stronge, Bidri Ware: Inlaid Metalwork from India, London, 1985, ill. 10, pp. 48-49.

    The oldest huqqas for smoking tobacco in India have been dated to the 17th Century. A Mughal nobleman, Asad Beg, relates how he was sent by Emperor Akbar on a journey from Northern India to Bijapur in 1604 to escort the daughter of Sultan Ibrahim Adil Shah II back to the imperial court to marry Prince Daniyal, and he returned with tobacco, a new world plant ("Wikaya'-i Asad Beg" (Memoirs of Asad Beg), The History of India as told by its Own Historians, vol.VI, ed. John Dowson, repr., Calcutta, 1953, pp. 101-4).

    This huqqa base is a fine example of a group of similar vessels produced in Bidar in the 17th Century. The term Bidri describes metalwork produced in the Deccan, with Bidar as its capital. It was made from an alloy whose main component was zinc, into which silver, brass and sometimes gold was inlaid. It is of large size as the earliest examples were; by the end of the 17th Century, huqqas became smaller in size with less bulbous shapes and narrower necks. It also has bi-colour inlay of silver and brass against a dark alloy ground. The use of brass inlay had more or less died out by the mid 18th Century.
    It would originally have been placed on an equally elaborate metal ring for stability. In the course of time, nearly all huqqas have become separated from their foot-rings, which explains the added foot on the current lot.

    A similar example sold in these rooms on 2 April 2009, lot 233.
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