Deccan Writing Box

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Size (WxDxH): 8 x 2.5 x 2.2 inches
Medium: Brass


This is a Deccan, cast brass, writing box with a pen box (kalamdan) made up of a tubular pen case, an ink well (roshandani) and a sand box. The case is engraved on both sides with palmette scrollwork designs with an openwork floral motif at the end. The lid of the pen case, which would have held a traditional reed pen, has at some time been replaced. The inkwell and sand box nestle beside each other towards one end of the pen case and both have lotus finial shaped hinged lids. Sand was used like blotting paper to dry ink but also to sprinkle on a rough writing surface to make it smooth enough for writing. The body of the ink well and sand box are engraved at the top and base with a chevron band and lappets. Similar writing boxes can be found in the British Museum and the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.
“Writing boxes were used throughout the Islamic world, their form varying considerably between Persia where they were frequently made of lacquered or painted wood or papier mâché as well as metal, the Ottoman lands where silver was a more common medium and Mughal and British India. In the early Mughal period, remarkably ornate, jewel encrusted, gold writing boxes were a feature of courtly life. Whilst this form of pen box was relatively early...brass later became the more popular medium, though bronze and silver are also known. Such writing boxes were used by scribes, merchants and similar professions, and were sometimes given as gifts within aristocratic and well-to-do families at the time of the recipients’ first writing lessons and were also known to have been used by some European employees of the East India Company.” - source, Alexander Merchant Art.