Comparable to the contemporaneous Asafi Masjid built in Lucknow in 1784–91 under Nawab (Governor) Asaf al-Daula (r. 1775–97), this distinctive Lucknow style of betel box in the form of an ogival dome was used for preparing and serving pan, a ceremonial amenity and digestif made of cut betel nut, mineral lime powder or paste, and various spices wrapped in a betel leaf (Piper betle). Beneath the lid’s pointed knob terminal, an exquisite field of translucent dark blue enameled and silver decoration cascades with sword-shaped leaves pointed downward and lush streamers of upside-down flowering plants with acanthus leaves and a hodgepodge of diverse blossoms. Encircling its bottom half, the principal decoration of the lid is a rich band of variegated enameled imagery of flora and fauna. At four cardinal points are diverse groups of fowl, primarily paired. A variety of flowering plants, including poppies, dianthus, and lilies, all graced with acanthus leaves of various sizes, are interspersed between these groups. There is a veritable rainbow of enamel colors, including translucent green, dark blue, light blue, and aubergine, and opaque orange, yellow, and light blue. The tray’s interior is centered with a rosette bordered by silver and translucent blue flowers. The primary adornment is a symmetrical decorative field similar to that on the lid, with paired birds—peafowl, geese, and two pairs of doves—at the cardinal points, and flowering plants.More...
- Markel, Stephen. Mughal and Early Modern Metalware from South Asia at LACMA: An Online Scholarly Catalogue. Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2020. https://archive.org/details/mughal-metalware (accessed September 7, 2021).
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