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Fly Whisk (chauri) with Design of Floral and Vegetal Motifs on the Handle

Artist Culture
Mughal period, 1526–1858
late 18th century
Ivory and whale baleen
Made in
Murshidabad, West Bengal, India, Asia
Jewelry & personal accessories, tools & equipment
Current Location
On View, Gallery 120
length: 33 3/4 in. (85.7 cm)
Credit Line
Young Friends Art Purchase Fund
Public Domain
Object Number
The ivory handle of this object has three separate parts: a tip shaped like a lotus bud, a tapering ropework shaft, and a cup-shaped mouthpiece. The upper portion of the shaft and the sides of the mouthpiece are carved with flowering irises and poppies, flanked by cypress trees. The mouthpiece is surmounted by a pierced double gallery of everted petals. The parts screw together to hold the individual whisk slivers, which are made of whale baleen (keratin-based filters from the mouths of baleen whales). Fly whisks were symbols of royal authority in both Hindu and Muslim courts in India; this one was made for the sophisticated Mughal court. It was probably crafted in Murshidabad, which served as the Mughal capital of Bengal and had specialized workshops for ivory and woodworking.
Private Collection, France [1]

- 2004
Oliver Forge and Brendan Lynch Ltd., London, England, purchased from private collection [2]

2004 -
Saint Louis Art Museum, purchased from Oliver Forge and Brendan Lynch Ltd. [3]

[1] Brendan Lynch, of Oliver Forge and Brendan Lynch Ltd., explained that the object had been inherited by a French family who preferred to be unnamed, and that it had been in the family collection for several generations [e-mails dated August 23, 2004, and October 29, 2004, from Brendan Lynch, Oliver Forge and Brendan Lynch Ltd., to Sidney Goldstein, Museum curator, SLAM document files].

[2] See note [1].

[3] Invoice dated December 13, 2004 from Oliver Forge and Brendan Lynch, Ltd. [SLAM document files]. Minutes of the Collections Committee of the Board of Trustees, Saint Louis Art Museum, November 30, 2004.
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