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Wine cup in the shape of a turban gourd, approx. 1625-1650

Wine cup in the shape of a turban gourd, approx. 1625-1650

Wine cup in the shape of a turban gourd, approx. 1625-1650. Northern India or Pakistan. Nephrite. The Avery Brundage Collection, B60J485.

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This outstanding piece of translucent dark-green nephrite is conceived in the shape of a turban gourd cut in half. The walls are thinly crafted, and the ribs between the lobes are precisely depicted. Five overlapping leaves on the base act as a support. An identical piece in the British Museum bears an inscription referring to the Emperor Shah Jahan (1628– 1658); another, in a private collection in London, is a copy of a Mughal piece, according to its inscription.

This bowl is inscribed in Persian along one rim: “Drink at the command of God,”  identifying it as a drinking vessel. Robert Skelton is of the opinion that the British Museum piece, previously thought by him and others to belong to the Shah Jahan reign, should now be redated to Emperor Jahangir’ s reign (1605–1627). Skelton felt that the multilobed form was clearly based upon a Ming prototype, but the ribs, leaf foot, and split palmettes on the rim were more in keeping with Mughal taste.