Central Asia, India, Mughal, ca. 18th century CE. A gorgeous and sizable gunpowder flask formed from a hollowed-out nautilus shell. The spiraled shell body has a tight coil in the center and a wide mouth which houses a tall decorative shoulder. Small panels of mother-of-pearl are applied around the upper cylindrical portion, with nineteen around the lower register, forty-eight interlocking triangular panels as well as ten thin rectangular panels on the upper register, and fifty-four panels of varying shapes and sizes surrounding the conical pouring spout. The mother-of-pearl panels emit a fabulous iridescence which is a preeminent characteristic of this flask style. The spout is plugged with a circular copper stopper attached to a slender chain leading down to a thick copper ring. Known as a "barutdan," this is certainly a beautiful means of keeping one's gunpowder dry! Size: 5.75" W x 7" H (14.6 cm x 17.8 cm).
Provenance: private San Francisco, California, USA collection
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