Makara Gunpowder Flask

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Size (WxDxH): 6 x 3.7 x 7 inches
Medium: Bronze


This is a Deccan or Mughal cast bronze, gunpowder flask in the form of a Makara or a dragon. The loops at the back would have been so it could be attached to a belt. From the back of the head down its back, as well as bisecting its flank and in a decorative leaf shape, is a plaited central line with lappet designs on both sides. Early gunpowder flasks were often made from animal horns, and this piece seems to reference the original form. There is some Gujarati script on the body but it is not decipherable, as it may be initials. The stand has been handmade specifically to display this piece.
“A powder flask is a small container for gunpowder, which was an essential part of shooting equipment with muzzle-loading guns, before pre-made paper cartridges became standard in the 19th century. They range from very elaborately decorated works of art to early forms of consumer packaging, and are widely collected. Many were standardized military issue, but the most decorative were generally used for sporting shooting. Many designs (such as horn and antler types) have a wide sealed opening for filling, and a thin spout for dispensing.” - Source: Wiki
Makara is a Sanskrit word which means sea dragon or water monster. Makara symbolizes water, the source of all existence and fertility. This could though also be a dragon as “in the medieval Muslim world, the dragon was the most frequently represented fabulous beast. This applied across styles and media and in both sacred and secular contexts.”