|Pair of Koftgari candlesticks
India, 19th century
A pair of iron candlesticks, each with three turned circular sections of varying dimensions. The stem is supported on a three-tiered base with a cylindrical candleholder at the top. The entire surface is decorated with geometric foliage in the Koftgari gold wire inlay technique.
The term Koftgari originates from the Persian word Koft, meaning interwoven; Kofter can be translated as gilder or gold beater. This technique involves etching out a pattern on steel and laying pure gold wire on top of the etched line. The wire is then hammered into the metal according to the pattern. The piece is subsequently heated and hammered again, after which the surface is polished with a porous stone. The technique was particularly popular in Iran and India from the 17th to the 19th century, when it was chiefly used to decorate arms and armour.1 It was not until the 19th century that household type objects, such as this pair of delicate candlesticks, were produced.
1 - Elgood, R. Firearms of the Islamic World, London 1995, no. 94b, p. 148, no 94b. See also: The Indian Heritage, Court Life and Arts under Mughal Rule, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 1982, no. 468, p. 140