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Sherbet spoon

Sherbet spoon

  • Place of origin:

    Abadah (probably, made)

  • Date:

    1874 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved wood

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Islamic Middle East, Room 42, The Jameel Gallery, case WW7

This elaborately carved spoon was used for drinking sherbet. Such exquisitely carved spoons were the preserve of the well-to-do. They featured prominently at fancy dinner gatherings, where they were the only utensils used. The spoons were placed in ceramic basins with their handles balanced on the side and their bowls floating on top of the sherbet. A guest would drink from the spoon, then place it back in the basin for other guests to use. One spoon might serve for two or three people in this way.

Large spoons like this one were usually made in two parts, with a long rhomboid handle joined to the bowl-section by a socket. The socket was concealed under a large rosette, as here, to make it appear as if the spoon had been carved from one large piece of wood. Large spoons also had a curved 'buttress' underneath the rosette which braced against the bowl. This added stability and prevented the spoon from breaking under the weight of its load of sherbet.

This spoon was made in the Iranian town of Abadah. In the period 1800-1900, when this piece was made, the town was famous for its elaborately carved sherbet spoons (‘qashuq’) made of pear- and box-wood.

Physical description

Carved wooden spoon with a large boat-shaped bowl, long rhomboidal handle, and rosette at the join. Elaborately carved in openwork.

Place of Origin

Abadah (probably, made)


1874 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Carved wood


Length: 55.5 cm, Width: 10.4 cm, Depth: 8.0 cm

Object history note

This object was bought in Tehran in 1874 by Robert Murdoch Smith, on behalf of the Museum. In one transaction totalling £33.4/, Murdoch Smith bought a range of art objects, including ceramics, metalwork and textiles, from Henry Michael Collins, a British telegraph engineer stationed in Iran between 1872 and 1878.

Descriptive line

Carved wooden spoon, Iran (probably Abadah), 1874.

Labels and date

Jameel Gallery

Three Spoons
Iran, probably Abadah

Making carved wooden spoons was a speciality of Abadah, a village between Isfahan and Shiraz. The larger type was made in two pieces - the long handle was inserted into a slot beneath the central rosette. Spoons of different sizes were for different purposes. Large spoons were for sherbet, medium-sized spoons for soup or rice, and small ones for pickles.

Carved lime wood

Museum nos. 1286-1874, 932B-1869, 934-1869 [2006]








Middle East Section

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