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Arts of Asia

The MFAH collections of art from China, India, Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia reflect Houston’s diverse communities. Ancient and contemporary works are displayed together to create innovative juxtapositions.


Powder Flask
17th century
Ivory, brass, and amber

3 3/8 x 9 5/16 x 1 1/4 inches

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Museum purchase with funds provided
by the Friends of Arts of the Islamic World

Arts of Asia

This fine powder flask, carved in high and low relief with animals and hunting motifs, bears witness to the sophistication of the artistic patronage of the Mughal dynasty (1526–1858). In spite of its delicacy and fragile medium, this flask was, in fact, used as a container for gunpowder and was meant to be used during hunting, a favorite pastime of Mughal rulers. The priming powder was released through the mouth of the antelope at one of the flask's ends when the brass spanner was pressed. A loop attached to the spanner enabled the hunter to fasten the flask to his belt.