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  • Date:

    1650-1700 (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Pale green nephrite jade, fashioned by hand using abrasive-charged tools.

  • Credit Line:

    Wells Bequest

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This exquisite, asymmetric spoon or ladle very clearly illustrates the skill of the craftsmen who were producing fine objects during the time of the Mughal Empire. It has been expertly fashioned from a single piece of nephrite jade, which is a hard and durable material that requires patience and skill to work. Although it is a hard material, when it has been worked to give fine edges or thicknesses, it can be prone to damage by sharp impacts or significant and rapid changes in temperature. Objects such as this would have been destined only for wealthy or powerful people.

Physical description

This finely worked spoon or ladle has a deep bowl of oval form and a curving stem, the whole being reminiscent of a poppy bud. Fashioned in one piece from pale green nephrite, the polish is glassy, and the bowl thinly worked. The back of the bowl is decorated with acanthus-like leaves in low relief at the junction with the stem, where there is a narrow incised band. The knop is in the form of a flower head.


1650-1700 (made)

Materials and Techniques

Pale green nephrite jade, fashioned by hand using abrasive-charged tools.


Length: 155 mm, Length: 79.5 mm, Width: 51.2 mm, Depth: 25.1 mm

Object history note

This spoon was acquired by Arthur Wells who was a Nottingham solicitor and Clerk of the Peace. He was a keen traveller and was made a Fellow of the Geographical Society. He is considered to be the first private British collector of Chinese jade and his collection of jade and other hardstone objects from South Asia was on exhibition at the South Kensington Museum at the time of his death in 1882. This collection was left to the museum in his will - the Wells Bequest.

Descriptive line

Spoon, light green nephrite jade, carved as poppy bud, Mughal, second half of 17th century




Gemstones; Hardstone; Tableware & cutlery


South & South East Asia Collection

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