Tanjore Encrusted Ware – Indian Inlay
The base material is brass and the inlay is of copper or occasionally silver. The most common form is a traditional Indian water jug or lota.
Firstly, the vessel is moulded out of brass and formed to the desired shape. It is then engraved with the intended design. Next, the copper inlay is fashioned and shaped to fit the engraving and hammered into position. The inlaid piece does not lie flush with the surface of the vessel but projects outward (this is sometimes referred to as outlay). The final step is to chase the inlaid pieces with texture and additional detailing.
Many pieces from the 18th and 19th centuries can be seen today but the art form was probably first practiced much earlier.
This 19th century Tanjore vessel has a copper base with silver inlay. It was made in Tanjore, Southern India and was recently sold at auction in the UK.
This is another example of a 19th century Tanjore lota water jug with a brass base and copper inlay. The lota vessel is a traditional Indian vessel and its form is based on a gourd or melon. This piece is in the Victoria and Albert Museum (IS.29-1888).
- Joseph Cohen