Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya

Gunpowder flask

Nautilus shell inlaid with mother of pearl and lac

Kota, Rajasthan

19th century CE


This beautiful mother of pearl gunpowder container was displayed in the 1903 Delhi exhibition (and published in the catalogue). This flask is a fine example of the 19th century of Indian craftsmanship with delicate material. Made in the princely state of Kota, Rajasthan that was famous for marquetry or inlay work, this flask resonate with the legacy of the Mughal influence in the contemporary regional art in northern India. There was a similar primer exhibited in the exhibition. Such objects were popular not just with the Indian populace but also found buyers in the European market.

The princely state of Kota produced works of marquetry/ inlay. Wood inlaid with ivory and mother of pearl, wood inlaid with wood was produced in different parts of India. Kota, however, became a prime centre of such art. Even today marquetry tiles from Kota are famous. Though the Portuguese are credited with promoting this craftsmanship, there was a high demand for inlay objects in Mughal India. The Museum has a few exquisite examples of this craftsmanship in its collection.