Beautiful antique Mughal Indian gilt brass aftaba (ewer).
The mouth of the spout is in the form of a the head of a beast and is inset with turquoise coral. A piece of which is missing. The aftaba has been made in several pieces that have been braised and riveted together with copper rivets.
There are a couple of dings that ive done my best to show in the photographs, the hinge for the lid has broken and the gilt has become tarnished in areas.
Ewers of this type have their origins in Persia and the Middle East. Typical Islamic ewers comprised a central chamber to which a spout, foot, handle and neck were attached. They permitted water to flow – Koranic injunctions deemed flowing water to be ‘clean’. Ewers were introduced to India by Muslim invaders during the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries. Thereafter their designs were Indianised – the ewers became more curvaceous and many were decorated with lush plant and floral motifs like this one.
In India, local Muslims used such vessels for handwashing. They became a practical tool of hospitality, being used to welcome visitors by pouring scented water over the hands and feet and into a basin, and took on a great variety of shapes and types whilst adhering to the basic ewer form. Sometimes they were filled not just with water but delicately-scented rosewater.