Kashkul

ca. 1859-1860 (made)
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Islamic Middle East, Room 42, The Jameel Gallery
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

The beggar's bowl or ‘kashkul’ was a sign of the religious poverty assumed by Islamic mystics. This function is reflected in the inscriptions used. On this ‘kashkul’ they include verses from the Qur'an as well as poetry in Persian praising the ‘kashkul’ in mystical terms.

This bowl is carved from half the shell of a huge nut. It is the fruit of the coco de mer palm which grows in the Seychelle Islands, in the Indian Ocean. The shell washes ashore in southern Iran.

The shell’s journey took on spiritual significance as a symbol of the dervish’s journey on the ocean of mystic knowledge. Many ‘kashkuls’ even have a ‘prow’ carved on them. Others, including this one, have a small spout to make the bowl into a drinking vessel.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Nut shell of coco de mer palm, carved
Brief Description
Kashkul carved from coco de mer, Iran, 1859-60.
Physical Description
Kashkul carved from coco de mer. A mouthpiece has been added to make it a drinking vessel, and rings to allow it to be suspended. The surface is carved with Persian and Arabic inscriptions, as well as scenes including lions.
Dimensions
  • Length: 29cm
  • Width: 14.3cm
  • Height: 12cm
Style
Marks and Inscriptions
  • invocation and poem
  • date (At end of Qur'anic inscription)
Gallery Label
  • Jameel Gallery 12–14 Beggar’s Bowls Iran 1800–75 The beggar’s bowl was a sign of the religious poverty assumed by Islamic mystics. This function is reflected in the inscriptions used. They include verses from the Qur’an (12), poetry in Persian about the mystic’s quest for enlightenment (13), and Shi’ite prayers (14). The first bowl (12) is carved from half the shell of a huge nut – the fruit of the coco de mer palm. The tree grows in the Seychelle Islands, in the Indian Ocean, and the shell washes ashore in southern Iran. The steel bowl (13) has the same shape. 12 Carved coco de mer with steel mounts Museum no. 876-1889 13 Steel with chiselled decoration. Signed by Haji Abbas Museum no. 405-1876 14 Lime wood, carved and painted Museum no. 726-1876(Jameel Gallery)
  • These bowls are made from a coco de mer (double coconut, Lodoicea maldivica), which probably came from the Seychelles. The surface of this one is carved in relief with animal combat scenes on the base - you can just see lions attacking bulls. SUFI ALMS BOWL (KASHKUL) Iran, dated A.H. 1276 (A.D. 1859) Coco de mer 876-1889(5 June 2000)
Production
dated AH 1276
Subject depicted
Summary
The beggar's bowl or ‘kashkul’ was a sign of the religious poverty assumed by Islamic mystics. This function is reflected in the inscriptions used. On this ‘kashkul’ they include verses from the Qur'an as well as poetry in Persian praising the ‘kashkul’ in mystical terms.



This bowl is carved from half the shell of a huge nut. It is the fruit of the coco de mer palm which grows in the Seychelle Islands, in the Indian Ocean. The shell washes ashore in southern Iran.



The shell’s journey took on spiritual significance as a symbol of the dervish’s journey on the ocean of mystic knowledge. Many ‘kashkuls’ even have a ‘prow’ carved on them. Others, including this one, have a small spout to make the bowl into a drinking vessel.
Collection
Accession Number
876-1889

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record createdFebruary 1, 2001
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