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Stem-bowl - Stem Bowl

Stem Bowl

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Iran (made)

  • Date:

    13th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    brass, cast with engraved champlevé decoration formerly inlaid with silver, the ground filled with black composition.

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Physical description

The trumpet shaped-stem with a moulding emphasizing the base and compressed knop half-way up, supports a rounded bowl with low curving sides bending very slightly back at the top. A raised fillet and flat moulding provide the rim.

The engraved decoration is dominated by an epigraphic band around the top, enclosed by previously silver-inlaid fillets. It is divided into four sections by hexagonal cartouches.

The broad central section of the body is framed top and bottom with a plain ribbon which loops to form four lobed cartouches. These cartouches in turn link to smaller spacing roundels within this broad band.
The ground is a pattern of swastika-like motifs.

The lobed compartments enclose figures of the royal party. From the left of the beginning of the inscription these are:

1. a woman seated on her heels turned to the left upholding a tambourine. Two ribbons cascade from her head-dress.
2. a cross-legged figure wearing pointed boots, facing three-quarters left, the left hand resting on the thigh, the right hand raised.
3. a dancer bent three-quarters to the right shaking the hanging sleeves of her tunic.
4. a musician seated on his heels, turned to the left and playing the flute.

At the bottom, forty seven lotus buds, formerly silver-inlaid, point downwards to the bowl stem.

Patina: the heavily corroded object is mostly covered with green sulphurous deposits, brown red oxide showing on limited areas. The inlay surviving in the form of silver salt in limited areas.

Place of Origin

Iran (made)


13th century (made)



Materials and Techniques

brass, cast with engraved champlevé decoration formerly inlaid with silver, the ground filled with black composition.

Marks and inscriptions

Lasting might....rising success, soaring fortune, spiritual integrity, sweeping victory, rising success, soaring fortune, perfect integrity, overwhelming authority...
Persian; naskhi; inscription around the rim; engraved


Height: 13.4 - 13.6 cm, Diameter: 17.3 cm of opening

Object history note

Purcahsed for £40 from G.G.Naaman, 255 Edgware Road, London, 19 May 1911.

Historical context note

Evidence for the locality of this bowl is provided by the epigraphic style of the wording of the invocation calling God's favours (du'a) as well as by the four bazm figures which include a flute player, a tambourine player, a dancer and a wine-drinker. A related unpublished specimen is in the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, USA.

This piece illustrates the western Iranian type of stem-bowl, characterized by a tall stem with central compressed knop.

Descriptive line

Middle East, Metalwork. Brass, cast with engraved champleve decoration formerly inlaid with silver, the ground filled with black composition, Western Iran, 13th c., Islamic. Inter-departmental transfer to MES, RF 2011/1170.

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

Melikian-Chirvani, A.S. Islamic Metalwork from the Iranian World, London:HMSO, 1982, p164-165, ISBN 0 11 290252 9
Melikian-Chirvani, A.S. Le Bronze Iranien, p.59.

Labels and date

Engraved bronze.
PERSIAN; 12th CENTURY. [Used until 10/2002]


Brass; Silver


Cast; Champlevé




Middle East Section

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