Until 1st Jan, 2026

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Lot 299 - FAS0624

Buy now for €1,040.00

Lot details

South India, 18th century or earlier. The pierced cattle head extending to a slender neck, fitted with a collar, and opening to a compressed globular vessel fitted with a trumpet mouth. The bronze with a rich, naturally grown, solid patina with encrustations of malachite and cuprite.

Provenance: From the private collection of Ibolya Laufer, Hungary, and thence by descent within the same family.
Condition: Good condition with wear and casting irregularities. Losses, a crack to the neck, signs of weathering, and slight warping to the mouth.

Weight: 210.7 g
Dimensions: Length 14.2 cm

Such a vessel would have been suspended with the cow head pointing down over a lingam—a phallus-shaped representation of Shiva. It would have been filled with milk which would then drip, drop by drop, from the cow’s mouth over the lingam. Lingams are regarded as ‘hot’ and require regular cooling as an act of worship. The constant dripping from such a vessel is described as Abhisheka, an act of reverence for Shiva.

Literature comparison:
Compare two closely related holy water sprinklers with lota bowls and cow-head spouts used for anointing the images of gods, illustrated by Robert F. Bussabarger in The Everyday Art of India, New York, 1968, p. 80.


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