The early mode of smoking tobacco in India and West Asia was the huqqa.
The Europeans termed it the hubble-bubble due to the sound it makes when smoked. It is not exactly known whether the huqqa was introduced in the Mughal court through Persia or elsewhere; it is supposed to have been introduced from the Deccan during Akbar’s reign. Mughal and Deccani paintings show huqqas being smoked by both male and female nobility. It is thus evident that the huqqa was common in India from the 17th century onwards.
The present flat-bottomed, bell-shaped Persian-style object is a classic example of a royal huqqa base. The gilded silver has four oval panels (mihrabs) with carved floral and bird design on the translucent blue enamel ground. On either side of the panels green enamel willows with tiny red-brown flowers at the ends are shown. In the space below are dancing peacocks and peahens. The neck has a similar design. The circular bands around the shoulder and bottom have charming floral patterns in blue, green, and red-brown enamel. A huqqa base of like design is in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
Sir Ratan Tata Art Collection.
Indian Decorative Art
Polychrome enamel on silver
18th Century CE
25.2 x 25.5 cm