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  • Place of origin:

    Bombay (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1855 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Attamaram Vulleram. (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Rosewood, partly veneered with sandalwood, the exterior with parquetry of ivory and khatam kari

  • Museum number:

    01159:1 to 3/(IS)

  • Gallery location:

    Furniture, Room 133, The Dr Susan Weber Gallery, case BY7, shelf CASE2 []

This inkstand is decorated with sadeli, a geometric micromosaic composed of various woods, metals and ivory, arranged in patterns as a veneer over the wooden carcass. Such work was much practised in western India, especially in and around Bombay, for which reason such objects were described under the blanket heading 'Bombay boxes.'

Physical description

Rectangular inkstand, of rosewood, partly veneered with sandalwood, the exterior with parquetry of ivory and khatam kari ('sadeli') within borders of khatam kari, ebony and ivory, with silvered brass rings. The raised central section has three wells, the middle with detachable lid, with a long concave well on each side for pens. The concave exterior moulding of the top of the inkstand has heart-shaped silvered brass carrying handles. The front contains a shallow drawer with a silvered brass ring pull.
The stand had four turned ivory feet, now missing, and the detachable lid of the central inkwell originally had a turned ivory knob, now separated.

Place of Origin

Bombay (made)


ca. 1855 (made)


Attamaram Vulleram. (made)

Materials and Techniques

Rosewood, partly veneered with sandalwood, the exterior with parquetry of ivory and khatam kari


Height: 8 cm, Width: 30.5 cm, Depth: 23 cm

Object history note

The inkstand was bought by the East India Company in Bombay in 1855 for Rs. 20. It was bought to be displayed at the Paris Universal Exhibition, 1855, and was acquired from the exhibition by the India Museum. It was transferred to the South Kensington Museum in 1879, when the India Museum's collections were distributed between different institutions. 1880 Register Entry: [Room 8. Wall Case 30.] '01,159. INKSTAND. Sandalwood, inlaid with ivory and mosaic; Calcutta. 4,296'

Historical context note

According to Sir George Birdwood, the maker was one of the two longest-established master artisans specialising in what the author called 'sadeli', in Bombay in 1862, operating with his brother from the same workshop (Jaffer, 2001, p. 317, who notes that the name is also recorded as Atmaram Wulleram).

Descriptive line

Ink-stand, rosewood partly veneered with sandalwood, ivory, wood and metal parquetry, Bombay, c.1855.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Jaffer, Amin Furniture from British India and Ceylon: A Catalogue of the Collections in the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Peabody Essex Museum. London : V&A Publications, 2001. 416 p., ill. ISBN 1851773185, p.317, pl.130.

Labels and date

About 1855
Workshop of Attamaram Vulleram

India (Bombay)

Veneer: sandalwood, ivory and micromosaic
Fittings: silvered brass

Exhibited at the Paris Universal Exhibition, 1855

Museum no. 01159 (IS)

Geometric micromosaic (later known as sadeli) was usually used on small items such as boxes and picture frames, though games tables and chairs were also made. By 1850 these wares were exported in large quantities to Europe, for sale and display at international exhibitions. The workshop of Attamaram Vulleram was one of 50 Bombay firms in 1862. [01/12/2012]


Sandalwood; Ivory; Metal; Rosewood


Woodwork; India Museum


South & South East Asia Collection

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