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Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
South Asia, Room 41

Ceremonial spoon

Ceremonial Spoon
ca. 1600 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

This unique ceremonial spoon was made within the Mughal empire, almost certainly in the court workshops, in about 1600. It is made of gold but is not solid. Its core is lac, the natural resin used in most gold artefacts made in the Indian subcontinent. The form is influenced by Europe, but the technique of setting the stones which relies on using the purest gold (kundan), is indigenous and apparently unique to the subcontinent. The stones covering the back of the bowl and all sides of the stem are rubies, emeralds and diamonds. It was bought by the museum in 1910 from the well-known Hungarian dealer based in India, Imre Schwaiger, for £353. The dealer had close links with princely families across India.
read The arts of the Mughal Empire The great age of Mughal art lasted from about 1580 to 1650 and spanned the reigns of three emperors: Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan. Hindu and Muslim artists and craftsmen from the northern regions of the Indian subcontinent worked with Iranian masters in the masculine environment of the r...
Object details
Categories
Object type
Materials and techniques
Gold, chased and set with rubies, emeralds and diamonds
Brief description
Gold spoon, chased and engraved on the back of the bowl; the back of the bowl and stem set with emeralds, rubies and diamonds in kundan settings, and with a large facetted diamond on the knop; the core filled with lac, a natural resin. Mughal empire, ca. 1600
Physical description
The spoon of European form is of gold with a core of lac. The stones covering the back of the bowl and all sides of the stem are rubies, emeralds and diamonds, set with diamonds along the edge of the bowl and in the knop.
Dimensions
  • Length: 18.6cm
Style
Object history
Bought in 1910 from the dealer Imre Schwaiger for £353
Subject depicted
Summary
This unique ceremonial spoon was made within the Mughal empire, almost certainly in the court workshops, in about 1600. It is made of gold but is not solid. Its core is lac, the natural resin used in most gold artefacts made in the Indian subcontinent. The form is influenced by Europe, but the technique of setting the stones which relies on using the purest gold (kundan), is indigenous and apparently unique to the subcontinent. The stones covering the back of the bowl and all sides of the stem are rubies, emeralds and diamonds. It was bought by the museum in 1910 from the well-known Hungarian dealer based in India, Imre Schwaiger, for £353. The dealer had close links with princely families across India.
Bibliographic references
  • Swallow, Deborah and John Guy eds. Arts of India: 1550-1900. text by Rosemary Crill, John Guy, Veronica Murphy, Susan Stronge and Deborah Swallow. London : V&A Publications, 1990. 240 p., ill. ISBN 1851770224, p.74, no.49. Mark Zebrowski, Gold, Silver & Bronze from Mughal India, Alexandria Press in association with Laurence King, London 1997, pls 28a and b, p. 51. Susan Stronge, "The Akbarnama and Mughal Court Culture", in Gian Carlo Calza, ed., Akbar. The Great Emperor of India, Fondazione Roma, 2012, fig. 8, p. 26
  • Ayers, J. Oriental Art in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London 1983, ISBN 0-85667-120-7p. 71
  • The Indian Heritage. Court life and Arts under Mughal Rule London: The Victoria and Albert Museum, 1982 Number: ISBN 0 906969 26 3p. 112, cat. no. 322, Susan Stronge
  • Stronge, S. Made for Mughal Emperors. Royal Treasures from Hindustan. London and New York, 2010p. 170, pl. 131
Collection
Accession number
IM.173-1910

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Record createdJanuary 30, 2003
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