Mughal Aftaba (Ewer) 02

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Size (WxDxH): 10 x 7.5 x 15.2 inches
Medium: Bronze


This is a very rare, Deccan or Mughal bronze aftaba or ewer. The rounded fluted body, which is thought to have taken its shape from hollowed out melons or gourds that were used earlier as water carriers, sits on a flared fretwork foot. The same shape of the chamber but smaller is repeated above the tapered neck. The curved handle is a parakeet and on the “pleasure dome” lid is a stylized peacock with his displaying tail. The 'S' shaped spout has a lotus terminal and around the neck and base of the lid are engraved lotus petals. A comparable example can be found in Mark Zebrowski's "Gold, Silver and Bronze from Mughal India", cat. 169, p. 139.
“One of the most characteristic objects of daily life throughout the Islamic world is the ewer…,” says Zebrowski. Furthermore “in the hot climates of India and the middle east, this water bearing vessel had great importance.” These were for both religious as well as utilitarian purposes and appear often in miniatures, art and architecture. In Deccan and Mughal culture, it is thought that ewers would have been used to pour scented water for guest to wash their hands. The ewer is generally thought to have evolved in Iran and spread to India but Zebrowski feels there is some evidence that this may have been the other way round. He cites an earlier dated example found in a temple from 1415.