Monday, August 8, 2011

Introduction


•  Kutch
•  Kashmir
•  Calcutta
•  Madras
•  Lucknow
•  Other Regions
  Silversmiths' Design Drawings

Click on the links above for silver from specific regions. Click on an image to zoom in.


Oomersi Mawjee Tea Service (OM Bhuj, c.1870)

This collection shown here comprises most of the important regional styles of Indian silversmithing. Most Indian silver is likely to have a theme of hunting, of native flora and fauna, of scenes from village life, or, in the case of Swami silver,” of different Hindu gods and goddesses. Each region had its own style, subject preferences, and forms.

 

Many Indian silversmiths did not stamp their work with hallmarks, but British Colonial silversmiths, as well as important and recognized native smiths, did mark their work. In Kutch pieces, for example, the great Oomersee Mawji (most auction houses and collectors spells his last name as Mawji, however, Oomersee spells his last name on all his drawings as wells other documents as Mawjee), used “O.M” or “O.M Bhuj,” and his son used the same initials with the addition of the city name Baroda. In Calcutta silver, one sees the names “Goopee Nath Dutt,” “ Grish Chunder Dutt,” “Dass & Dutt” (all from Bhowanipore), or the Colonial “Hamilton & Co.,"  and, in Madras silver, one sees the hallmark “P. Orr,” or  “P. Orr & Sons,” both marks being of the Colonial family business of Peter Nicholas Orr, originally a watchmaker from London. Lucknow silversmiths identified their art not with hallmarks, but with pictorial marks in the forms of peacocks, elephants, birds, and flowers. 
 

Much of Indian silver was worked in the répoussé method. the designs preliminarily punched from the back, but of course, this method could only be used where the back was accessible (not, for example, in a narrow-necked perfume flaçon). After a piece had been made to the required shape, it was then filled with a mixture of black wax and resin, which supported the silver and allowed it to be chased from the outside. The resin mix absorbed the shock of the hammers and punches used to form the patterns and was easily removed when the design was finished, by heating it to the melting point. The outside was then cleaned, and the decorative details burnished.

For more information on hallmarks, I highly recommend the following site:

http://www.925-1000.com/AngloIndian_01.html

For additional information on Antique Scottish and English silver, hallmarks, and collectors' clubs, see: http://dartsilverltd.co.uk/links.php

Comments made be posted directly on this blog, or the blogger can be reached at Indian Silver during the Raj. HarishPatelDesign@gmail.com