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  • Place of origin:

    Iran (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1650-1700 (made)
    1800-75 (mounting)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Fritware, overglaze and lustre decoration; brass mount, engraved

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Ceramics, Room 137, The Curtain Foundation Gallery, case 31, shelf 7

In 19th century Qajar Iran, before a contemporary export market had emerged, a commercial market for historical artefacts arose, fuelled by Western collectors and museums. Historically, fragmentary material culture, particularly ceramics, including 17th century Safavid fritware, and Chinese porcelain, which had been damaged through use, was often repaired or re-purposed with metal mounts, frequently brass, to replace missing spouts, handles, lids and necks. Many examples were acquired for the Victoria and Albert Museum by Major-General Sir Robert Murdoch Smith (1835-1900) in Iran in the 1870s and 1880s. Among these is a large corpus embellished with a minutely engraved repertoire of figures from 19th century Iranian visual culture: youthful Qajar princes, veiled women, dervishes, acrobats, as well as monstrous supernatural beings, known as divs, and a range of bizarre humanoid creatures. These mounted vessels of Safavid fritware are therefore couched in a Qajar environment and re-fitted according to contemporary taste.

Physical description

Bottle, fritware, pear-shape with long neck, underglaze painted in black with a male figure having horns issuing from his head, surrounded by elephants, fabulous birds and flowers, glazed and painted in metallic lustre which has fired yellow. The neck later mounted with an engraved brass collar.

Place of Origin

Iran (made)


ca. 1650-1700 (made)
1800-75 (mounting)



Materials and Techniques

Fritware, overglaze and lustre decoration; brass mount, engraved


Height: 27.9 cm, Diameter: 15.2 cm

Descriptive line

Bottle, fritware, pear-shape painted in yellow with black outlines depicting elephants and a dancing figure with antlers; Iran, 1650-1700: later engraved metal mounts.

Production Note



Fritware; Brass (alloy)


Painted; Glazed; Mounted; Engraved

Subjects depicted

Flowers; Birds; Figures (representations); Elephants




Middle East Section

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