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  • Place of origin:

    Khorasan (made)
    Herat (possibly)

  • Date:

    1150-1200 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Cast brass, with silver inlay

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Physical description

Flask in the form of a bird. The bird's head is the stopper, attached to a long rod which is square in section, tapering to an oval section and finally flattening and curving upwards. The tip is shaped like a spatula, and may have been intended for makeup.

The decoration throughout is in silver inlay. The bird's wings are folded across its back. The bird's wings and tail are decorated with a silver-inlaid geometric pattern of scales, dots and parallel lines, indicating primary and secondary feathers. At the base of the tail is a winged quadruped with long ears and flowing tail which is walking to the left and looking back at a scrolling stalk.

On the proper right of the neck is a silver-inlaid hare and on the proper left a hound.

On the breast of the bird there is a scene of two opposed riders tilting towards a stylised plant, their lances bedecked with banners. On both sides there are single roundels in which a seated, cross-legged figure holds two vertical poles each, topped with dragon heads. These refer to planetary, lunar or solar iconography.
At the top of each wing is a pierced hole.

The flat underside of the body has a small hole, possibly for attachment to some sort of stand.

Patina: red to brown-red. The silver inlay is entirely preserved.

Place of Origin

Khorasan (made)
Herat (possibly)


1150-1200 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Cast brass, with silver inlay


Length: 14 cm of the octagonal volume holding the bird with head, Width: 5.3 cm

Object history note

Unknown provenance

Historical context note

A related flask, the head-shaped stopper now missing, is depicted in the Survey of Persian Art, pl. 1312B, from the Harari Collection.

Descriptive line

Flask in the form of a seated bird, cast brass alloy with silver inlay decoration, Khurasan, Iran, 1150-1200

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Melikian-Chirvani, A.S. Islamic Metalwork from the Iranian World, London:HMSO, 1982, p122, ISBN 0 11 290252 9


Bronze; Silver


Cast; Engraved; Inlaid

Subjects depicted

Quadruped; Horseback riders; Hound; Feathers; Gazelle


Ph_survey; Islam; Containers; Metalwork


Middle East Section

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