Pandan – Betel-leaf Box
The box is like a flat circular tray, with low walls. The cover is in the shape of a high dome minaret typical of Lucknow architecture. The entire piece is decorated with champleve enamel in green, red,yellow, and cobalt-blue. The lid has bird, animal, and flower design, while the tray has floral and bird design. The interior of the lid is gilded. From the shape of the box it seems that it must have been used for ready rolled paans (bidas).
The art of embellishment and colouring the surface of objects made of silver or gold by fusing mineral substances on it is known as minakari (enamel work). The nature of the base is vitreous and the oxide of a metal (cobalt or iron) is the colouring matter. The majority of the pieces of Indian enamelwork use the champleve technique, in which the enamel is placed in cavities made on the metal ground.
An interesting account of enamel objects is given by Abul Fazl in his Ain-i-Akbari: “The minakar or enameller works on cups, flagons, rings and other articles with gold and silver. He polishes his delicate enamels separately in various colours, sets them in their suitable places and puts them to the fire. This is done several times. His charge is sixteen dams for each tolah of gold and seven for a tolah of silver.”
Sir Ratan Tata Art Collection.
Indian Decorative Art
Polychrome enamel on silver
Late 18th Century CE
Diameter 10.7 cm, height 11.9 cm