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This intricately wrought pair of cruets is executed entirely in silver and crowned with the letters ‘V’ and ‘A’. Typical of such articles when opaque, the letters indicate their contents: V for vino or wine, and A for aqua or water. The classic Latin uppercase letters have been moulded with the precision of printing type.


The lidded cruets, shaped like traditional Indian water jugs, are finely chased all over, and ornamented with the traditional coriander pattern from the Kutch region of Gujarat, with its intricate curving stems interspersed with flowers. Kutch silver is known for its closely worked, densely foliate, repoussé and chased work; the stippled background is typical.


The cruet handles are sinuous S-shaped snakes, complete with fine overlapping engraved scales, also typically Kutch, but common to 17th century Portuguese silverware. Their bases are circular, and finished with floral and pearl designs and a gored bottom section, adding the Indo-Portuguese touch. The tray on which the cruets rest is oval in shape, and also densely engraved with coriander and flower motifs.


An identical late-19th century set of cruets from Daman is to be found at the Church of Our Lady of Mercy in Portugal’s Santarém diocese; it once belonged to the first Bishop of Daman.

TIME PERIOD: 19th-20th century
MATERIAL: silver
DIMENSIONS: Cruets: 16 x 9.5 x 6.5 cm x (base) ø5.4 cm; Tray: 18.5 x 13 x 2 cm
INVENTORY NUMBER: 01.1.37 a), b) and c)
Old Goa, Basilica of Bom Jesus

Museum of Christian Art, Convent of Santa Monica, Goa, India, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon, 2011.