This carved soapstone dish is from Agra, the principal centre for this art form in India. It blends Indian craftsmanship and popular European design motifs. In the centre is the face of 'the green man', a gargoyle with foliage sprouting from its mouth. Variations of the green man motif are seen across many European cultures and is associated with early pagan symbols of vegetation deities. The foliage pattern around the gargoyle is the acanthus leaf motif, popularised by William Morris, a British designer associated with the Arts & Crafts movement in England in the 19th century.
The acanthus leaf motif was widely used as a neo-classical decorative pattern in the 19th century. The Museum's cast iron pillars, Corinthian capitals & wrought iron railings, imported from England between 1862-1872, also depict this pattern.