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Writing case - An ivory writing-casket inlaid with gold and thirty-nine ivory miniatures.
  • An ivory writing-casket inlaid with gold and thirty-nine ivory miniatures.
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An ivory writing-casket inlaid with gold and thirty-nine ivory miniatures.

  • Object:

    Writing case

  • Place of origin:

    Delhi (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1887 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Ivory with silver mounts, set with miniature paintings on ivory

  • Credit Line:

    Lent by Her Majesty The Queen

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 125c, case 2

Object Type
Addresses, or declarations of loyalty, made by subjects of Queen Victoria, who was Empress of India, were often presented in caskets. However, the receptacle could be of almost any form, including articulated fish or architectural monuments. This writing box is unusual in being functional as well as ornamental. The casket contains a hand-written address relating the donor's intention to build a bridge over the river Kali Nandi at Sidpur, as well as an explanatory key to the 39 miniatures mounted onto the casket.

The box was presented by the Rais, or nobleman, of Chhatari, a town formerly in the Bulandshahr District of the United Provinces on the Indian subcontinent. After 1856 it was administered by the British but still belonged to an estate owned by the Rais of the Chhatardhari clan of Mewatis, after whom it was named.

Subjects Depicted
The ivory box is set with ivory miniatures framed with silver, and has silver corner pieces and mounts. The miniatures all depict famous Mughal monuments, details of Delhi, India, such as the Clock Tower in Chandni Chowk, or monuments of the Muslim world outside the Mughal empire. Miniatures of this kind were a speciality of Delhi artists in the 19th century. The full list of places and monuments depicted is as follows: Imambara, Lucknow; Selimgarh, Delhi;interior of the tomb of Shah Zaman; Makbara, Agra; shrine and place of pilgrimage, Iran; Akbari Gate, Agra Fort; interior of a tomb; the Summan Burj, Red Fort, Delhi; Makbara, Hussainabad, Lucknow; Roshan-ud-Daula Mosque, Delhi; Clock tower, Chandni Chauk, Delhi; the Diwan-i Am, Delhi; interior of the Jami Masjid, Delhi; Kaaba Sharif, Mecca; Medina Sharif; the Moti Mahal, Delhi; the Qutb Minar, Delhi; the Diwan-i Khas, Delhi; Mausoleum of Itimad ud-Daula, Agra; Mausoleum of Safdar Jang, Delhi; Tomb of Nizam du-Din Aulia, Delhi; Dargah, Agra; Anderum Makbara, Mirza Sultan Hazrat; Makbara Sher Fateh; Naksha Dargah, Ajmer; Mausoleum of Humayum, Delhi; the Taj Mahal, Agra; interior of the Diwan-i Khas, Delhi; interior of the Hamman (Royal Baths), Delhi, Meshed, Iran; Jami Masjid, Delhi; Basra; Kerbala Mualla, Iran; Gate of the Fort, Delhi; saint's shrine, Iran; interior of the Diwan-i Am, Delhi; the Peacock Throne, Delhi; interior of the Jami Masjid, Delhi.

Historical Associations
The Rais of Chhatari presented the box to Queen Victoria on the occasion of her Golden Jubilee in 1887. It has been on loan to the V&A from the Royal Collection since 1926. There is a related casket at Osborne House, Queen Victoria's residence on the Isle of Wight. It is made of solid ivory mounted with miniatures and ornamented with gilded designs and inscriptions. It was presented to Queen Victoria by the Nawab of Rampur.

Physical description

Rectangular box , partly gilt and moiunted with miniatures in qouache on ivory. The edgfes fremed in silver with escutcheon lock, hinges, mounts and feet.

Place of Origin

Delhi (made)


ca. 1887 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Ivory with silver mounts, set with miniature paintings on ivory


Height: 12.6 cm with lid closed, Width: 31.7 cm, Depth: 17.8 cm

Object history note

Presented to Queen Victoria on her Jubilee in 1887 by Nawab Muhammad Mahmud Ali Khan Rais of Chhatari, Bulandshahr District, now in Uttar Pradesh, Northern India Made in Delhi, India

Descriptive line

Writing case presented to Queen Victoria, ivory, Delhi, ca. 1887.

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.277, pl.101.
Archer, Mildred. Company Paintings Indian Paintings of the British period
Victoria and Albert Museum Indian Series London: Victoria and Albert Museum, Maplin Publishing, 1992 227 p. ISBN 0944142303

Labels and date

British Galleries:
In India the craft of painting on ivory was at its height between 1840 and 1900. Artists in Delhi, in particular, produced subjects that appealed specifically to a British market. Souvenirs of this type were widely available to British people living in India. [27/03/2003]

Production Note

Dated 1304 AH (Muslim calendar)


Gouache; Ivory




Royalty; British Galleries; Indian Company Paintings


South & South East Asia Collection

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