Large Kutch Silver Box India C.1880
Large Kutch Silver Box India C.1880. Rectangular deep casket shape, the hinged cover and sides, coriander motif pattern, embossed, repousee and chased with rich scrolling foliage decoration against stippled background, base plain. Measures: 6.25 x 3.25 x 3.00 inches. Item Weight: 435 grams. Condition: Very good. Acid tested for high standard of silver. Kutch in northwestern India (Cutch region) is virtually an island geographically; due to this location, it developed independently from the rest of India before the 19th century and prospered both politically and culturally. Silver from the Cutch region of India probably became the most famous of all the Indian regional styles. The Maharajas of Kutch gave a lot of assistance to the silversmiths living there, championing the artisans’ fine work; encouraging and supporting this ancient craft, which flourished in consequence. They commissioned silver for their own use and sent it out as diplomatic gifts. The Kutch style of silver decoration first emerged in the early 19th century and by the end of the century it had developed into a distinctive form. Where the style of decoration on silverware in Kutch originated is uncertain. Some writers point to the 15th century mosque of Ahmedabad as a major source of inspiration. Dutch influence has also been noted in the appearance of repoussé border ornamentation on the majority of Kutch silverware. There are also resemblances to the 17th century decoration of Portuguese pottery, and distinctive similarities in the depiction of animal and bird figures with Persian decorations. The attractive ornamentation of scrolling foliage intertwined with animals, birds and hunting scenes was the most venerated style of Indian silverware in the late 19th century. Also aiding the success of the Kutch style were the supportive efforts made by the Raos of Kutch ensuring examples of the region's silverware were displayed in every possible international exhibition. One of the reasons the Kutch artisans were capable of such intricate detailing was because the high quality of the silver used, usually between 95- 98% silver, meaning that the material was softer and easier to manipulate. The magnificent silver of Kutch owes much of its popularity to one silversmith, Oomersi Mawji, whose form and decoration, together with his superlative technique made his work internationally famous and enabled the other Kutch silversmiths to successfully market their wares. The interest in Kutch designs subsequently flourished in London and many pieces were commissioned by companies such as the London stores Liberty & Co. and Proctor & Co. This exposure to a British clientele ensured the prosperity and popularity of the Kutch style amongst European customers from the late 19th century to the present day.