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  • Place of origin:

    Raqqah (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1200 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Fritware, possibly moulded in two halves, with a transparent glaze (now degraded)

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Islamic Middle East, Room 42, The Jameel Gallery, case WE7, shelf 3

This unique ceramic sculpture depicts a horned bull with a pronounced dewlap, standing on a rectangular base, with his tail curled round between his hind legs. A ring of mounds runs round the edge of the base, suggesting the boundary of a pen. There is no discernible opening, which raises the question of this object’s function. The many other Islamic figurines were probably used for pouring water, but this piece seems to be a unique survival of a small free-standing sculpture.

Physical description

Figure of a bull standing on a rectangular base with the tail curled through his hind legs. With a thoracic hump and a pronounced dewlap. Fritware, possibly moulded in two halves (there is a crack down the middle of the spine) before attachment to the base; transparent glaze, now almost entirely turned through burial an opaque silvery-mushroom colour.

Place of Origin

Raqqah (possibly, made)


ca. 1200 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Fritware, possibly moulded in two halves, with a transparent glaze (now degraded)


Height: 22.2 cm, Width: 23.6 cm, Depth: 14 cm

Descriptive line

Fritware figurine of a bull with his tail curled through his hind legs, Syria (possibly Raqqa), about 1200.

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

Tim Stanley ed., with Mariam Rosser-Owen and Stephen Vernoit, Palace and Mosque: Islamic Art from the Middle East, London, V&A Publications, 2004, pp. 49-50, pl. 64.

Labels and date

Jameel Gallery

Ox Figurine
Syria, perhaps Raqqah
About 1200

Figurines depicting animals and, more rarely, humans usually had some practical use, as does the small vase to the left. This ox, with a pronounced dewlap and tail curled between its hind legs, is remarkably realistic, but its function has not been established.

Moulded fritware under an opaque white glaze

Museum no. C.36-1980 [2006]
FIGURE OF A BULL, glazed white earthenware.
SYRIAN; about 1200 [Old label]


Fritware; Ceramic



Subjects depicted





Middle East Section

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