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Ewer

  • Place of origin:

    Khurasan (made)
    Herat (probably, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1200-1250 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Worked sheet brass with copper and silver inlay

  • Museum number:

    592-1898

  • Gallery location:

    Islamic Middle East, Room 42, The Jameel Gallery, case 2W

This ewer is a fine example of Islamic inlaid brassware. Its decoration includes elaborate knotwork, numerous inscriptions calling blessings on the (anonymous) owner, and lions crouching around the neck and spout.

In Islamic art, objects made from base materials were often transformed by sophisticated forms of decoration. Brassware, like this piece, was often decorated with 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 contrast by using a black filler.

The inlay technique first became popular in eastern Persia (now Iran) in the mid 12th century. It then spread westwards and by 1250 was in use across the Middle East. Its popularity declined after 1500.

Physical description

A waisted foot ring supports a body with alternating nine wide and nine narrow ribs separated by narrow gadroons. These all terminate at the shoulder in a series of rounded bosses. The shoulder is flat and has at its centre a raised, flat eight-pointed rosette in which the tall tubular neck is joined. The latter terminates in a long pouring lip.The handle is rectangular in section and runs from the centre back of the body, rising vertically with an outward slant then curving inwards to join the rim at the rear of the pouring mouth.The handle is engraved with a twisted rope pattern.

A band of Kufic runs around the mouth. A band of naskhi script encircles the base of the neck and a circular band in thuluth covers the flat surface area of the shoulder. Two further bands in thuluth script encircle the top and bottom of the body on the larger ribs. Continuous Kufic bands on the narrow ribs read vertically from top to bottom. A final Kufic band is engraved on the waisted foot. The centre of the ribs are engraved with knot patterns that flank cusped cartouches encircling further foliate knots and a crescent moon. The tops of the wider ribs are engraved with knotted cartouches and the narrow ribs with knotwork.

Two seated lions are raised and engraved either side of the pouring lip and a crouching lion on the sheet which covers the pouring spout. The sides of the spout are decorated with a scrolling pattern.

Place of Origin

Khurasan (made)
Herat (probably, made)

Date

ca. 1200-1250 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Worked sheet brass with copper and silver inlay

Marks and inscriptions

[May it belong] with bliss, divine grace, good fortune, immunity, A, divine solicitude, contentment, lasting life to its owner!
Persian; Kufic; upper inscription on the neck; engraved

Might, auspicious fate, good fortune, felicity, immunity, lasting life, p[erpetually]
naskhi; lower band on the neck

Might, auspicious fate, good fortune, felicity, divine support, plenitude, divine solicitude, contentment, immunity, lasting life, p[erpetually]
thuluth; shoulder

1. With bliss, divine grace, good fortune, immunity, plenitude, divine fav[our]
2. With bliss, divine grace, good fortune, divine solicitude, immunity, A
3. With bliss, divine grace, good fortune, divine favour, immunity
4. With bliss, divine grace, good fortune, divine favour, constancy, A
5. With bliss, divine grace, felicity, immunity, divine favour
6. With bliss, divine grace, good fortune, divine solicitude, immunity, A-A
7. With bliss, divine grace, good fortune, immunity, divine favour, A-A
8. With bliss, divine grace, good fortune, immunity, divine solicitude, plen[itude]
9. With bliss, divine grace, good fortune, immunity, divine favour, constan[cy]
on the body

Might, auspicious fate, good fortune, divine solicitude, contentment, plenitude, immunity, tranquility, to its ow (handle) ner
upper frieze - starting left of handle

Might, auspicious fate, good fortune, divine favour, contentment, plenitude, perception of God A!
lower frieze - starting left of the handle

With felicity, divine grace, kar-la (sic), spiritual integrity, that which makes victorious, plenitude, victory,....,lasting life to its owner
kufic; on the foot

Dimensions

Height: 38 cm, Diameter: 20 cm maximum, body, Diameter: 11.2 cm foot

Object history note

Purcahsed for £35 from Lt-Col R. Poyser, 155 Victoria Road, Old Charlton, Kent, 21 June 1898

Historical context note

The Kabul museum owns a closely related ewer. See Melikian-Chirvani, A.S. Islamic Metalwork from the Iranian World, 1982, p.118, pl.45a

Descriptive line

Brass ewer with inlaid decoration, Afghanistan (probably Herat), ca. 1200-1250.

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

Melikian-Chirvani, A.S. Islamic Metalwork from the Iranian World, London:HMSO, 1982, p. 114-118.

Labels and date

Jameel Gallery

2 Brass Ewer
Afghanistan, probably Herat
1200–50

The inlay on this ewer features copper as well as silver. The decoration includes many inscriptions containing good wishes for the owner. Some are arranged horizontally. Others are set in vertical bands up the sides.

Brass inlaid with silver, copper and a black composition
Museum no. 592-1898
[2010]
Jameel Gallery

Turquoise Ewer and Brass Ewer

Kashan ceramics were inspired by two sources. One was imported Chinese porcelain. The other was metalwork made in Iran. The complex shape of the turquoise ewer is a clear example of borrowing from metalwork, as the brass ewer beside it shows.

1 Iran, probably Kashan, about 1220
Fritware under a turquoise glaze
Ades Family Collection

2 Afghanistan, probably Herat, 1200-50
Brass inlaid with silver, copper and a black composition
Museum no. 592-1898 [2006-2009]
EWER
Worked sheet brass with copper and silver inlay
PERSIAN (Khorasan); early 13th century
The inscriptions consist of conventional blessings to the owner. [Used until 11/2003]

Materials

Brass

Techniques

Raised

Subjects depicted

Lions; Knots of Solomon

Categories

Islam; Containers; Metalwork

Collection

Middle East Section

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