Indian / Pan box in the shape of a duck / late 17th-early 18th centuryIndian
Pan box in the shape of a duck
late 17th-early 18th century

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Indian Sub-Continent; Indian
Creator Name-CRT: Indian
Title: Pan box in the shape of a duck
Title Type: Object name
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1666
Creation End Date: 1733
Creation Date: late 17th-early 18th century
Object Type: Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects
Classification Term: Metalwork
Materials and Techniques: Tin alloy inlaid with silver and brass (Bidri ware)
Dimensions: H. 5 5/8 in. (14.3 cm), D. 4 1/2 in. (11.4 cm), L. 7 1/4 in. (18.4 cm)
AMICA Contributor: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 1997.132
Credit Line: Purchase, Florence and Herbert Irving Gift, 1997

Possibly inspired by Chinese ceramics, this charming, chubby duck resting his head on his back is a "pan-dan," or box, used to hold pan-rolled betel leaf stuffed with betel nut, lime paste, and spices. The native Hindu custom of eating betel leaves (to aid digestion and freshen the breath) was introduced at the Mughal court in the seventeenth century by palace ladies, probably Hindu wives of the Mughal rulers. It is rare to find objects executed in the bidri technique in a shape other than that of metalwork. Bidri ware is named for the city of Bidar in the Deccan (about seventy-five miles northwest of Hyderabad in Delhi), the chief center of its production from the seventeenth to nineteenth century. Four artisans collaborated to make this box: a molder who created the shape using the lost-wax technique; an etcher who drew the designs on the surface; an engraver who chiseled out the areas around the designs; and an inlayer who applied the silver and brass. The surface was then blackened to enhance the beauty of the inlay, used here to define the duck's various feathers. The origins of this elaborate process remain unclear; however, long-standing oral traditions suggest that it was imported from Iran.

AMICA ID: MMA_.1997.132
AMICA Library Year: 2000
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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