As mentioned in an earlier post, the work of Oomersi Mawji was considered to be the pinnacle of Kutch silver design in the late 19th century. From card cases and tea sets to punch bowls and salt cellars, the inventiveness of Oomersi Mawji and his workshop of silversmiths knew no bounds. The finely detailed and expertly worked material that was produced by this most revered manufacturer found its way around the world, and shops such as Liberty & Co. and Proctor & Co. in London held catalogues full of O.M.’s designs. The success and popularity of this particular manufacturer enabled other Kutch silversmiths to successfully market their wares both in India and overseas.
The most sought after designs were those that incorporated a witty or amusing detail, such as in this example, were a finial modeled as a boy charms a serpent whose tail snakes around a handle formed as a wooden branch.
It was Oomersi Mawji’s artistic vision and sheer quality of execution that set this manufacturer apart from rival Kutch silversmiths. O.M.’s silversmiths produced material of an extremely high quality and with details crisply defined and scenes confidently executed. Whilst there were other manufacturers producing high quality material in the characteristic style for which Kutch silversmiths were known, no other company was able to match the workmanship of O.M.’s studios.
Here we see a detail from a claret jug in which a deer is attacked by two hunting dogs, surrounded by scrolling foliage, a scene typically reproduced on Kutch silverware of the period.
Whist O.M. was perhaps the most famous there were of course an array of regional silversmiths working in India in the later stages of the 19th century, each of which produced vastly different designs. Some of these will be discussed here, including the work of Grish Chunder Dutt, a silversmith based in Bohwanipur in Calcutta, whose pieces featured scenes often inspired by Hindu mythology.