A Beautiful c.1900 Large Hand-Painted Polychrome Wooden Indian Bowl Depicting a Polo Match


Origin: Indian
Period: Late Nineteenth / Early Twentieth Century
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1890-1910
Height: 3.5 inches
Diameter: 16 inches
Weight: 0.8 Kgs

The polychrome naively hand painted shallow bowl of generous proportions depicting a polo match with figures on horseback with mallets and attendants with flagged goalmouths, set upon an ochre coloured landscape having trees, figures, children and birds within birdcages with a long house fort to the background above a rocky outcrop populated with a crowd of figures including a King and Queen in golden robes, the sides decorated with gold leaf on an ebony ground, the moss green painted underside showing a signature center, hand signed “Ganernache (?) Srinagar, Kashmir, India, No 3121”.

The overall condition is good with very small amounts of chipping to the paint at the edges of the bowl and to parts of the ochre ground. There are two small holes that were obviously part of an old mount and now a small hoop to the center for wall mounting.

Although we are unsure of the specific match that this bowl depicts it is most certainly a stunning piece of artwork painted with skill and dexterity, showing a good sense for colour and balance, and although numbered, we cannot find any other similar example. "The Sport of Kings", or Polo in other words, was started by Persians and was popular till 1979 which declined sharply due to invasion of Arabic Muslims in Iran but the game has a strong affiliation with Kashmir. Polo was last played in Kashmir during the British period at the historic polo ground in Srinagar and was a very popular game until the fall of Dogra regime in the State and now it is confined to only Leh and Kargil since 1947.

Depicting a rare subject matter and hugely decorative this bowl was also designed with function, even as an afterthought, and as such works wonderfully well on either tabletop or wall.