Perfume Bottle

* Nearly 20,000 images of artworks the museum believes to be in the public domain are available to download on this site. Other images may be protected by copyright and other intellectual property rights. By using any of these images you agree to LACMA's Terms of Use.

Perfume Bottle

India, Delhi, circa 1800
Furnishings; Accessories
Silver and yellow quartz (Citrine) inlaid with turquoise, diamonds, and rubies set in gold
3 1/2 x 1 3/4 x 7/8 in. (8.89 x 4.45 x 2.22 cm)
Indian Art Special Purpose Fund (M.91.240a-b)
Not currently on public view

Curator Notes

The body of the perfume bottle is an ellipsoid with the flat planes of the inlaid front and back connected by perpendicular silver sides inlaid with three parallel rows of turquoise set in gold. The cap is a sphere with a threaded screw that fits into the collar forming the neck. The cap and neck are inlaid with parallel rows of turquoise set into the silver. Four silver orbs inlaid with turquoise set in gold function as off-center feet. There are three small silver lugs and the remnants of one on the outer shoulders of the vessel, which were probably used to attach now missing decorative or suspension chains. A small chain once connected the cap with the vessel’s shoulder, as evidenced by the residual lugs. The front and backs planes are inset with an oval-shaped piece of yellow quartz, which is a distinctive but atypical material in the genre of South Asian decorative art. It is embellished with the Mughal flowering plant leitmotif in its late stylistic manifestation of a matrix-like composition of inlaid gold branches with blossoms formed by faceted diamonds and rubies set in gold. The use of the motif functioned to proclaim the vessel’s Mughal origin. The science and aesthetics of perfumery were highly evolved in India. Rose water and essential oils of rose, jasmine, and poppy seed were the favored fragrances and were worn by both women and men. On special occasions they were also offered to esteemed guests to scent their handkerchiefs or other apparel.


  • Markel, Stephen.  "The Use of Flora and Fauna Imagery in Mughal Decorative Arts."  Marg 50, no. 3 (March 1999).