F rom the time the seals of the Indus valley were made, south asian artists have included animals in their work. There are many instances in 19th century silver where depictions of animals are incorporated into the decoration. From religious to naturalistic, tender to playful, animals are represented in a variety of ways, varying poses and using various techniques.
This Indian silver Jigger from Alwar, features an assortment of animals and birds commonly found in India. The silversmith probably chose these popular animals so that his customers would be familiar with them and able to easily recognize and appreciate them. One of the animals is the chital or spotted deer. This graceful deer is widespread and found in the grasslands and wooded regions of India and Sri Lanka. Chital live in small groups and have a life expectancy of 9-11 years. On this Jigger, the chital is depicted in a standing pose with the texture of its coat and spots clearly marked as well as the long antlers.
A second animal which is commonly depicted is the black tailed fox. This fox is smaller and paler than its European relative. Also known as the Bengal fox, it is the most common species of fox found in the Indian sub-continent. It can be identified on this cup by its pointy ears and bushy tail. The Bengal fox lives in burrows in open grassland. On this cup, in typical Alwar fashion, the texture of the fox’s coat and tail are engraved in fine detail.