Jain Hand vase - Elephant vase - Fish vase - Serpent vase
The Carnival Glass of India, Part 3
Indian Carnival Vase ID Guide:
Hand, Elephant, Fish and Serpent Vases
Jain carnival glass Hand and Fish vases
photos by *treasurehunter*
This is Part 3 of a twelve-part guide on Indian carnival glass. Part 1 of this guide provides general information about Indian carnival glass and about the Jain glass works. This section of our guide features Hand, Elephant, Fish and Serpent vases. The vases shown here were made in the 1930's, by the three glass works located in and near the town of Firozabad, in the glassmaking region of the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
Parts 2, 4 and 5 feature Indian carnival Goa, bulbous, etched and one-of-a kind vases. Part 6 provides photographs of cobalt-blue Fish vase reproductions. To access other parts of this guide, click on links in the Table of Contents at the bottom of the page. This guide was made possible by the many E-Bayers who contributed photographs to this project. Please leave feedback by clicking the button at the bottom of the page.
Jain 8" Right Hand vase, circa 1935, with
details of beading, floral pattern and wristwatch
photos courtesy of ponypainter
Hand Vase. Indian carnival Hand vases appear in a number of variations: they may be left- or right-handed and may be decorated or unadorned. When decorated, the vases feature impressed designs of beaded bands, wrist watches, flowers or a combination of these motifs. Indian carnival Hand vases ordinarily are found in marigold, but they also appear less commonly in blue, red and amethyst; a blue vase is featured below. Red and and amethyst Hand vases are shown in Edwards & Carwile's Standard Companion to Non-American Carnival Glass (p. 159). There are two main sizes of Indian carnival Hand vase: standard vases that run from 8" to 9" high; and mini-vases that range from 5" to 6" high. As shown below, on mini-vases, the trumpet portion of the vase is shortened:
A 5 1/2" Jain mini left-hand vase
in blue carnival glass
photo permission of bug54carnivalglass.com/index.htm
Indian carnival hand vases were issued by both Jain and AMW glassworks. Jain Hand vases may or may not be marked with the word "JAIN". AMV Hand vases bear the impressed initials "AMV" and feature thumbs that are nearly vertical, rather than angled slightly outward as shown on the above Jain vases. A photograph of a left-handed AMV Hand vase can be viewed at the website of Indian carnival glass authority Vikram Bachhawat (geocities.com/bachhawat2us/).
As noted in Part 1 of this guide, Glen & Stephen Thistlewood, authors of A Century of Carnival Glass, have commented that Indian carnival glass patterns often feature "symbolism and motifs that have meaning unfamiliar to Western culture" (171). The Thistlewoods relate, in describing Hand vases, that "in Hindu iconography, the lifted hand protects both the conscious and unconscious order of the creation. Many Hindu gods are multi-limbed and have several hands that are frequently placed in divine gestures very similar to the Hand vase" (177). Nevertheless, it is notable that Indian carnival hand vases bear a strong resemblance to Bohemian and French hand vases of much earlier vintage, as can been seen at the Hand Vase page of the New Zealand Glass Museum website (glass.co.nz/glasshandvases.htm).
AMV and Jain Hand vases are referenced in the Standard Encyclopedia of Carnival Glass, 11th ed., at pp. 24 & 134. The Standard Companion to Non-American Carnival Glass, at pp. 12 & 159, notes that the vases were made in the 1930's.
Vases with Animal Motifs
Jain Elephant Vase
photo courtesy of reclaimed-seattle
Elephant Vase. Elephant vases were issued both by Jain and by CB Glass Works. The vases feature an elephant head right above the base; the elephant gazes upward, and his trunk curls either to the left or right around the middle and top of the vase. As shown above, on some vases, the elephant head is decorated with lines and beaded patterns suggesting a jeweled cloth headdress. Variants of the pattern exist, in which one of the elephant's ears is left undecorated. The elephant's head also may bear the letters "CB," or may feature the word "JAIN," and/or the Jain swastika. The swastika, in Sanskrit called a svasti, has no connection to the reverse swastika of the Third Reich -- the Jain symbol dates to the 2nd Century of the Indian subcontinent and means 'fortune' or 'happiness'.
The Thistlewoods report that Elephant vases appear in 7" and 9" sizes and are found in marigold. Elephant vases are referenced in the Standard Encyclopedia of Carnival Glass, 11th ed. (2008) (p. 89), which has assigned the name "Elephant Vase Variant" to Elephant vases that either bear the Jain Swastika, or which lack decoration on one of the elephant's ears. The Standard Companion to Non-American Carnival Glass (p. 102), notes that the vases were made in the 1930's.
and a Jain Fish Variant vase in marigold (right):
The fish on Fish Variant vases wrap counterclockwise up the vase.
photos by ponypainter and *treasurehunter*
Fish vase. According to the Standard Companion to Non-American Carnival Glass (p. 123), Fish vases were issued by Jain Glass Works in the 1930's. The vases feature a fish wrapped clockwise (from bottom to top) around the vase stem. The mold work on Fish vases is exceptional, showing finely wrought scales; a ribbed back fin; a serpentine tail terminating in a forked tail fin; and an ornately decorated head with an open catfish-like mouth, protruding tongue and concentric circles around the eyes. Some, but not all, of the vases bear the word "JAIN" impressed on the base. The vases are made of thin mold-blown glass, but typically are fairly tall and heavy, running 9 - 11" high.
Fish Variant vases are a mirror image of the Fish vase; on Fish Variants, the fish wraps counterclockwise, rather than clockwise, around the vase body. On all Fish and Fish Variant vases, the fish has two eyes. Both vases are referenced in the Standard Encyclopedia of Carnival Glass, 11th ed. at p. 108.
According to Glen and Stephen Thistlewood in A Century of Carnival Glass, the fish represents the Hindu god Vishnu in his incarnation as the golden fish Matsya, who saves mankind from a flood (p. 123). As the legend goes, Matsya as a little fish spied Manu -- the man who would become the first king of all the earth -- washing his hands in a river. Matysa begged Manu to save him, and so Manu brought the fish home in a bowl. The fish grew miraculously quickly, first outgrowing the bowl, and then a bigger bowl, a tank, a pond, a lake, a larger lake and finally the ocean. The fish warned Manu that a flood would destroy the world, and so Manu, like Noah, built a ship. Matsya towed the ship to a mountaintop, thus rescuing Manu and future generations of humanity from the deluge.
Both Fish and Fish Variant vases usually are found with one of two color types of coloring: iridescent marigold (above right), or iridescent marigold with frosted glass (above left). Two Fish vases with unusual coloring have appeared on E-Bay. These are shown below:
Fish vases with unusual frosted amethyst coloring
photos by reclaimed-seattle and fcc4568
The vase shown at top left was discovered by Seattle E-Bayer reclaimed-seattle and surfaced on E-Bay in January, 2008; the 9 1/2" vase has a frosted amethyst-over-frosted-white treatment. The second vase at top right was uncovered by Australian E-Bayer fcc4568; this 10" vase is iridized marigold with a narrow band of frosted amethyst around the top rim. The bases of both Fish vases measure 3 1/2".
Buyers should note that Fish vases have been reproduced in cobalt blue non-iridized glass. Part 5 of this guide features photographs of cobalt-blue Fish vase reproductions.
Rare Jain and AMV Serpent vases, with details of the serpents' heads:
These vases resemble Fish Variant vases, but the serpent
winding around each vase has one eye instead of two.
photos by junkinjak (left) and ponypainter
Serpent vase. Serpent vases feature a snake with his tail wrapped around the top of a vase body and his head resting on the base. This rare Indian carnival glass pattern has been attributed to both the Jain and AMV glass works. According to the Standard Companion to Non-American Carnival Glass (p. 281), Serpent vases were issued in the 1930's.
Serpent vases closely resemble Jain's Fish Variant vase, shown higher up on this page. Like the fish on the Fish Variant vase, the snake depicted on the Serpent vase wraps counterclockwise (from bottom to top) around the vase stem. The serpent's scaly body terminates in a ribbed tail very similar to the fish tail featured on both Fish and Fish Variant vases. On Serpent vases, however, the creature coiling around the vase stem has one eye instead of two. Buyers should note that if a Fish vase is turned in profile in a photograph, the fish may appear to have one eye, so be sure to query sellers about the number of eyes on any listed Serpent vase. Many pieces listed on E-Bay as "Serpent vases" are simply mislabeled Fish Variant vases. Genuine serpent vases are shown above and below.
In a personal communication, E-bayer junkinjak of India has sent us information about the Serpent vases shown here. According to junkinjak, the mouths on AMV and Jain Serpent vases differ: the vase shown at right is an AMV version of a Serpent vase dating from the 1930-1940's, while the vase at left (also shown below) is an older, original Jain vase. Junkinjak writes that the Jain Serpent vase is of a notably higher quality: the mold work is more detailed, the glass heavier and the iridescence richer than that found on AMV Serpent vases. E-Bayer ponypainter has noted that Serpent vases vary along the bottom edge: on some, the serpent's face rests on a star-shaped design (as shown on the AMV vase above right). Others (e.g., the Jain vase shown above left) lack this design. Some, but not all AMV Serpent vases bear the "AMV" imprint.
The mold work on the Jain Serpent vase featured here is exceptional: the patterns shows well-delineated scales, a ribbed back-fin and tail, and a head with a finely detailed eye and open mouth. Even the backs and sides of the vases are beautifully detailed:
Close-up photographs of the intricate mold work
on the back and side of a Serpent vase
photos by junkinjak
Serpent vases most often appear in marigold. The Standard Encyclopedia of Carnival Glass, 11th ed., features a photograph of the first reported marigold-on-pastel-blue Serpent vase (p. 239). The Jain Serpent vase shown here is 9 1/4" tall, and the AMV Serpent vase measures 8 3/4" tall.
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To continue to another part of this guide, click one of the links below:
2. Goa-style Vases
3. Hand & Animal Vases
4. Bulbous (Tear-shaped) Vases
5. Etched and Other Vases
6. Cobalt-blue Fish Vase Fakes
7. New Pitcher Patterns
8. New Tumbler Patterns: A
9. New Tumbler Patterns: B
11. Rare and notable Jain pitchers, with tumblers
12. Other Indian carnival glass finds (in progress)
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Many thanks to E-Bayers bottleman, fcc4568, junkinjak, ponypainter, reclaimed-seattle and *treasurehunter* for generously contributing photographs to this guide. Special photo permission courtesy of E-Bayer bug54 and of bug54carnivalglass.com/index.htm. All photos belong to photographers and may not be copied without thier permission. Text is (c) 2007, 2008 and 2009 curculiosglass, all rights reserved. To locate any E-Bayer whose name is mentioned here, or to visit his or her store, simply click on "SITE MAP" on the bottom of your screen, and then click on "Feedback Forum" on the right top corner of the screen that next appears. Type or copy the E-Bayer's name into the search blank. To see our other guides on glass, click on GUIDE INDEX. If you found this guide helpful, please leave feedback by clicking the button below.