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Updated: February 28, 2013 00:34 IST

A rare silver magic unveiled

B. Kotaiah
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A rare silver ware kept at Salarjung Museum in Hyderabad. PHOTO: ARRANGEMENT
A rare silver ware kept at Salarjung Museum in Hyderabad. PHOTO: ARRANGEMENT

Salarjung Museum shows silver of rare beauty and workmanship from India, Persia, England and other countries. India has rich traditions in silver work. Silver has been used since ages to make ornamental and useful articles.

One of the well-known handicrafts fashioned out of silver is filigree. It is usually made in thin silver. Three centres are famous for filigree: Karimnagar in A.P., Cuttack in Orissa and Murshidabad in Bengal. Karimnagar filigrees are praise-worthy for their spider-web delicacy. Cuttack filigree is characterised by its foamy appearance. Filigree is said to be about 200-years-old.

Delhi during Mughul times was famous for silver work. Jaipur silver came to contain, in 18th century, enamel decorations, expertly added. Silver smith craft in Persia is one of ancient origin. During the Sassanian period (211-651 AD) excellent silver products were made. Represented in the museum are Karimnagar and Cuttack filigree objects, Indian figured silver cups, containers and vessels and Persian objects of beautiful shapes and attractive designs.

Presence of English white metal in Museum’s silver is dominant. The earliest English silver objects in the collection are three 18th century George III (1738-1820) silver bladed desert knives with Chelsea porcelain handles painted with flowers and insects.

Among English silver trays, an attractive one is a mid-Victorian tray, its hallmark consisting of a lion, among other things. A milk jug with a ceramic body in silver case marked with anchor is probably a Burmingham product of second-half of 19th century. Solid silver is exampled by a silver pot inscribed as having been presented by Lt. Barron. The 20th century silver articles, some made by Moppin and Webb, and other manufactures of Sheffield are many.

Russian objects include a fine set of punch bowl made in late 1880s and a tea service, also of the same period, all exquisitely enamelled. Two cocks, most probably made of nickel (early 20th century) and a silver candle-stand, early 19th century, are the French examples.

Dep. Keeper (Retd.)

Salarjung Museum

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