Antique 19th Century Indian Cutch solid silver three piece tea set, modeled as Black Francolins standing on snakes, textured all over with a scalloped pattern and with large feathers detailed on the wings; the large francolin as teapot with its head hinging open along the beak to serve as spout and the serpent’s tail entwined around its neck serving as handle with ivory insulators; small francolin with hinged head and raised wings as milk jug, the other as sugar bowl with hinged back.
In discussion of the design of this service Harish Patel notes “…Here (Oomersi) depicts a life-and-death struggle, in this case, a mother bird, a snake having wrapped itself around her neck, is being strangled. Her two chicks, one, the sugar bowl with closed-wing lid; the other, the milk jug with raised-wing handle, observe their mother’s plight in alarm…Mawji was the master of animals depicted in dramatic struggles: a deer chased by hounds, or elephants, their tusks entangled, engaged in mortal combat.”
Oomersi Mawji is recognized as one of India’s greatest silver-smiths. Based in Bhuj, in the Kutch district of Western India he was popular with patrons from the British Army and civilian personnel. He also enjoyed the patronage of Anglophile Indians who adopted the western fashion of preparing tea with the three separate elements. The base of the teapots foot is stamped O.M BHUJ.