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Gallery Text

The dense pattern of small blossoms and unfurling leaves that covers this vessel suggests that it was produced in Kachchh, a coastal kingdom in northwestern India. The custom of sprinkling guests with cool, scented rosewater originated in Iran. As vessels like this one demonstrate, the practice was adopted by elites at Hindu and Muslim courts and, later, by wealthy Europeans in India. During the 19th century, the Hindu monarchs of Kachchh promoted its silverware through diplomatic gifts and at international exhibitions in London, Paris, and the United States, where its floral patterns proved popular with consumers.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Rosewater Sprinkler (Gulabpash/Gulabdani)
Work Type
c. 1880 - 1890
Creation Place: South Asia, India, Gujarat
Persistent Link
Level 2, Room 2590, South Asian Art, South Asia in the Medieval and Early Modern Eras
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Physical Descriptions
26.5 x 9.8 cm (10 7/16 x 3 7/8 in.)
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift in memory of Liliane Soriano
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
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The silver rosewater sprinkler has a bulbous body, a long, tapering spout with floral scrollwork, and a blooming, flower-shaped finial. The floral nozzle has five piercings from which rosewater can be sprinkled. The body, which would have contained the rosewater, is decorated with floral designs set within a medallion of leaves.

The major centers in India for silver-work were Bombay, Calcutta, Cutch, Kashmir, Lucknow, and Madras. Stylistically, this sprinkler can be attributed to Bhuj, in Cutch (now Kutch), Gujarat. The base contains an illegible inscription which probably gives the name of the workshop where the object was created. The numeral "four" is inscribed in Devanagari script, which may be an indication of its date, or a production number.
Rosewater was traditionally sprinkled on guests in India because it has cooling and refreshing properties. The tradition of using rosewater came to Mughal India from Iran, where, in the festival of Ab Pashan, rosewater was sprinkled to invoke the memory of rainfall, which would put an end to famine. The custom was gradually incorporated into the Rajput court, where it was used in both ceremonial as well as religious festivals. It is now used in India to welcome arriving guests.

Objects such as this sprinkler were widely produced for international exhibitions, such as the Colonial and Indian Exhibition held in London in 1886.
Exhibition History

Silver and Shawls: India, Europe, and the Colonial Art Market, Harvard University Art Museums, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 08/27/2005 - 01/29/2006

Overlapping Realms: Arts of the Islamic World and India, 900-1900, Harvard University Art Museums, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 12/02/2006 - 03/23/2008

32Q: 2590 South and Southeast Asia, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/02/2015 - 01/01/2050

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at