Deccan Lota 03

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Size (WxDxH): 4.75 x 4.75 x 5 inches
Medium: Brass and Copper
Origin: North Karnataka / Andhra Pradesh


This opulent, cast and engraved Deccan bimetal lota or water vessel with repeating copper Hamsa motifs on a background of brass with copper flowers. Two similar bands of geometric diamond designs frame the Hamsa panel, and alternating copper and brass lappets hug the neck and base. This combination of both brass and copper is uniquely Indian and is called Ganga-Jamuna, a poetic reference to the contrasting colours of the water of the Ganges and Jamuna rivers. On the base can be seen an ancient technique of a dovetail fixing of a copper centre to the brass, in order to fill the last section left open by the casting process. A similar pot, but featuring yalis, can be seen in the Victoria and Albert museum and similar shaped lotas are in Mark Zebrowski's "Gold, Silver and Bronze from Mughal India", cat.331, 332, p.211.
The lota is thought to be one of the most ancient Indian vessels, with archaeological discoveries of lotas dating to 1st or 2nd century BC. Early versions were often ridged or fluted, so it is thought that they took their shape from hollowed out melons or gourds that were used as water carriers, and this botanical origin continued to dictate its form. More than 1500 years later, lotas are still found, but the Mughal influence meant many had radically different ornamentation like the lota here.
Hamsa, which is possibly a swan or goose, is revered by Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains. It is seen as a symbol of purity, detachment and divine knowledge. Hamsa symbolizes the highest spiritual accomplishment as it swims in water, walks on earth and flies in the sky.