A pen case, as used by Muslim scribes, is very unusual in Chinese ceramics.

The flower scrolls on the walls are fairly typical of mid-18th century Chinese export porcelain, but the flower-spray on the base is very unusual in being a close imitation of Meissen design. The most striking feature is concealed inside the lid. Two Muslim Indians are seated on a carpet on a terrace, holding nosegays, one man reclining on a cushion. The Chinese decorator has faithfully provided both men with small trays for betel nuts and the accompanying lime. We see a spittoon and, on a cushion, a jamdar dagger. The left-hand figure alone has a sword and shield beside him. The source would have been an Indian painting in the 18th century provincial Mughal style. Little Chinese export porcelain was commissioned with designs specifically for the Indian market.

Provenance

Sotheby's, Chinese Export Porcelain, 16/5/95, lot 123.


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