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India, Karnataka, Bidar, circa 1675-1700
Furnishings; Serviceware
Bidri ware inlaid with silver and brass (tarkashi and tehnishan techniques)
3/4 x 13 in. (1.91 x 33.02 cm)
Gift of Anna Bing Arnold and the Indian Art Special Purpose Fund (M.89.19)
Not currently on public view

Curator Notes

This lyrically rhythmic tray is decorated with silver wire and silver sheet inlay, and small accents of brass used to define and highlight select elements of the composition. The central medallion is a radiant sun-burst motif in silver sheet with a brass center. It is encircled by a band of lotus scrolling. Undulating strands of silver wire are used over the entire surface of the tray to represent the rippled waters of a pond, which emanate concentrically from the central medallion like the waves from a rock tossed in a pond. Eight large blossoming lotus plants formed by sheet inlay alternate with eight smaller lotuses in a more subtle than usual spoked arrangement often found on bidri-ware trays. Brass sheet is used for the stamen-like center and brass wire for the stem of the lotus flowers. The depiction of water is a conventional but somewhat infrequent motif on Deccani bidri-ware. The surface of the water is often elaborated with flowering plants or with various real and fanciful creatures of the sea. The waters of life have long been glorified in Islamic and Indian poetry, including in laudatory verses inscribed on prized decorative art objects. Water imagery is replete throughout the pictorial arts and architecture of the Mughal, Rajput, and Deccani realms. It is used not only for symbolic or decorative purposes, as here, but also in a narrative context or as a landscape element.


  • Haidar, Navina Najat, and Marika Sardar. Sultans of Deccan India, 1500-1700: Opulence and Fantasy. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2015.
  • Sanfrani, Shehbaz H., ed.  Golconda and Hyderabad.  Bombay: Marg Publications, 1992.

Exhibition history

  • Sultans of Deccan India, 1500-1760: Opulence and Fantasy New York, NY, Metropolitan Museum of Art, April 14, 2015 - July 26, 2015