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Writing box

Writing box

  • Place of origin:

    Syria (possibly, made)
    Turkey (possibly, made)
    Iraq (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1250 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Brass hammered and inlaid with silver and gold

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by George Salting

  • Museum number:

    M.712-1910

  • Gallery location:

    Islamic Middle East, Room 42, The Jameel Gallery, case 2E []

This writing or pen box held pens, inks of different colours, sand for blotting, and small rolls of paper. Such boxes were status symbols for the officials who owned them. Brass boxes inlaid with precious metals, like this one, were the most prestigious, though their shape imitated wooden boxes.

Objects made from base materials such as brass were often transformed by sophisticated inlaid surface ornament. For larger motifs, metalworkers chiselled out small areas of brass and filled them with thin sheets of silver, gold and copper. They added details by chasing the surface of the softer metals and created contrast with a black filler. The results were an unusually graphic form of decoration, often of great quality.

Physical description

Oblong brass writing box inlaid with silver and gold; fitted with ink pot and pounce-pot. Damascened all over with knot design on lid with medallions with geometric motifs on either end. Lid features rosettes. Inside of lid dedcorated all over with y-shape motifs and inscriptions, same on inside base.

Place of Origin

Syria (possibly, made)
Turkey (possibly, made)
Iraq (possibly, made)

Date

ca. 1250 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Brass hammered and inlaid with silver and gold

Marks and inscriptions

Inscription in Arabic on inside cover
"By me flow life and death, by me blood..."
Rest of translation missing.

Dimensions

Length: 24.8 cm, Width: 6.8 cm, Height: 4.8 cm

Descriptive line

Pen box, brass with rounded ends, Syria, south-east Turkey or northern Iraq, about 1250.

Labels and date

Brass with silver and gold inlay
Syria or Mesopotamia, late 15th c.
Salting Bequest [pre 2002]
Writing Box with Rounded Ends
Syria, south-east Turkey or northern Iraq
About 1250

Writing boxes held pens, inks of different colours, sand for blotting, and small rolls of paper. They were status symbols for the officials who owned them. Brass boxes inlaid with precious metals were the most prestigious, though their shape imitated wooden boxes.

Brass inlaid with silver and gold

Museum no. M.712-1910. Bequest of George Salting [Jameel Gallery]

Materials

Brass; Silver; Gold

Techniques

Hammering; Inlay

Categories

Islam; Metalwork

Collection

Middle East Section

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