Teapot

ARTIST / MAKER: Unknown
DATE: 19th century (made)
PLACE: India (made)
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES: Silver parcel-gilt
COLLECTION NUMBER: 866

Although coffee was more widely drunk in Persia (Iran), tea was introduced at the end of the 15th century as trading routes with China opened up and the establishment of the Silk Road made trade more accessible. As tea drinking became established throughout Persia, the country began cultivating their own tea in 1889 after Mohammed Milza came back to Persia with 3000 tea plant saplings collected from North India. Persian chai tea is often taken with rose petals, as well as saffron, coriander, cinnamon and cloves also being added.

A major centre of culture, Persia was influential in decorative art techniques used across the region with methods and decorative motifs also found on Thai objects, further helped by access to valuable resources, including metals. Inlay was a particular technique that Persian silversmiths specialised in, enabling delicate and elegant designs to be produced, with the mixed metal appearance of silver and silver-gilt areas a recurring trend in Islamic art wares. The theme of hunting was a central subject to many decorative objects and this teapot depicts stylised caracals, wild cats trained to hunt for Persian royalty, pursuing hares.