Madras (Chennai) was one of the principal silver centres during the Indian Colonial Silver period. Silver production probably started in the 1750s and marked pieces can be traced to Madras from the 1790s. These early items, predominantly in European style, are listed in our Indian Colonial Silver category. The Raj period, the time of British rule in India, commenced in 1858 and Madras silver from this period evolved into a distinctive and recognizable style, drawing its inspiration from ancient Hindu architecture and art. Madras silver depicts Hindu deities and mythical figures in what has become known as ’Swami’ style. These depictions are chased and repoussed, creating a focal point in relief. Cast finials of elephants and chased floral borders add to the ornamentation.’Swami’ style silver, was made by Indian silversmiths working for European owned firms, as well as by independent Indian silversmiths. The most prominent English firm was P Orr and Sons, who received the accolade “Jewellers and Silversmiths to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales.” Madras silver objects encompass a wide range of domestic and personal silver items including silver trays, silver tankards, silver tea services, silver boxes, silver trophies and presentation pieces, silver visiting card cases, silver ewers and silver goblets.
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