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Copper water vessel ( Lota)
India, 18th century

Copper water vessel ( Lota)

A large copper vessel, made in several sections that are joined. The ribbed body of the vessel is voluptuously rounded. The flared neck tapers upwards and then widens to a flat rim, which is stamped with a diamond pattern on the outside. The rim and neck are worked in repoussé technique with bands of lotus petals, which are also incised. One of the ribs is engraved with a short inscription.

• Lota’s (water vessels) were made in brass and copper all over India to be used in everyday households. The word to describe these vessels, lota, is the same word as lotus, the water lily, and comes from the same root as the Latin lotus, washed. Excavations of archaeological sites in India confirm that this type of vessel, popular during the Mughal period, was in use centuries before the Muslim invasion. Many lota’s are ridged or fluted like melons and it is assumed that it was exactly those fruit, hollowed out, which formed the earliest water vessels. This botanical form determined for some time the shape of the lota, and also of the huqqa (base for a water pipe), an object that evolved from the lota in the seventeenth century.1 A lota of this size is rare and might have rested on a supporting ring, similar to those used for huqqa bases.2 A number of Lota’s of similar design, though smaller, are published by Zebrowski.3

1 Zebrowski, M.: Gold, Silver & Bronze from Mughal India, London 1997, page 207
2 Zebrowski, M. op. cit. page 227, no. 367
3 Zebrowski, M. op.cit. page 210, no. 326, 328, 329

Height: 15 inches, 38 cm
Width: 15 1/ 4 inches, 39 cm


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