A silver three-peice tea service in the form of three francolins by Oomersee Mawjee, Bhuj, circa 1870
Lot 61
A silver three-peice tea service in the form of three francolins by Oomersee Mawjee, Bhuj, circa 1870
Sold for US$ 47,500 inc. premium
Auction Details
A silver Tea Service by Oomersi Mawji in the form of three birds  Bhuj, circa 1870
Lot Details
A silver three-peice tea service in the form of three francolins
by Oomersee Mawjee, Bhuj, circa 1870
Modeled as Black Francolins (also known as Black Partridge) standing on snakes, textured all over with a scalloped pattern and with large feathers detailed on the wings; the large francolin as teapot with its head hinging open along the beak to serve as spout and the serpent's tail entwined around its neck serving as handle with ivory insulators; small francolin with hinged head (now missing) and raised wings as milk jug, the other as sugar bowl with hinged back, the base of the snakes with mark in cameo punches: 'O.M.' 'BHUJ'.
Teapot: 9 1/8 in. (23 cm.) high; Sugar and Creamer: 5 1/2 in. (14 cm.) high

Footnotes

  • In discussion of the design of this service Harish Patel notes "...Here (Oomersee) depicts a life-and-death struggle, in this case, a mother bird, a snake having wrapped itself around her neck, is being strangled. Her two chicks, one, the sugar bowl with closed-wing lid; the other, the milk jug with raised-wing handle, observe their mother's plight in alarm...Mawji was the master of animals depicted in dramatic struggles: a deer chased by hounds, or elephants, their tusks entangled, engaged in mortal combat."

    Oomersee Mawjee is recognized as one of India's greatest silver-smith. Based in Bhuj, in the Kutch district of Western India he was popular with patrons from the British Army and civilian personnel. He also enjoyed the patronage of Anglophile Indians who adopted the western fashion of preparing tea with the three separate elements. His sons shifted production to Baroda in the 1920s, where Oomersee Mawjee, Jr. (see lot 62) was silver-smith to the Gaekwad of Baroda.

    For further examples and discussion of the Oomersee workshop see Vidhya Dehejia, Delight in Design: Indian Silver for the Raj, New York, 2008, pp. 38-47, and nos 20 and 23. Another service of the same subject was sold in our London room, April 24, 2012, lot 220.

    Provenance:
    Private Collection, Wyomimg
Activities
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