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2. A fine and Unique bottle with figural decoration. Zebrowski, p307, no.511.
Bidar, Deccan, India.
Early 18th century.
Bidri inlayed with silver.
H25cm
A fine and Unique bottle with figural decoration. Zebrowski, p307, no.511.

Long-neck bottles (surahis) have not survived to this day in great numbers. This early 18th century bottle, in particular, is an extremely rare example of a Bidri object with zoomorphic decoration, with great variety of shapes that also depict topographic landscape, floral and architectural motifs. The globular form of the bottle is superbly put to use to create a complex and continuing scene where animals depicted at different scales inhabit a fantastical jungle landscape replete with palm trees, oversized flowers, mountains and pleasure pavilions, all on a wavy shore by a waterfront with sea animals. Amongst the animals, we can find felines, antelopes, elephants, monkeys, peacocks and other birds, and a horse with rider. Framing the figurative scene, there are also floral decorative motifs forming bands above and below.

The diversity of shapes, but also the graphic richness in the use of silver lines and volumes, make this object a beautiful example of the Deccani representational style. Expressiveness and energy are given priority over naturalism, and the resulting surface replete with silver elements is not constricted by attentiveness to natural scale, perspective or depth. This particular character is perhaps underlined by the addition of an aquatic scene on the bottleneck, thus placing water above land, inverting what is the usual convention of the natural order of the world.

The bottle is published in Mark Zebrowski’s seminal book ‘Gold, Silver & Bronze from Mughal India’, on plates nos. 286 and 511.

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