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Inkwell - Inkwell (davat)

Inkwell (davat)

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Khurasan (made)
    Iran (made)
    Herat (possibly, made)
    Afghanistan (made)

  • Date:

    1150-1200 (cast)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Cast brass alloy. Engraved champlevé designs partly inlaid with silver and copper, the ground filled with black composition.

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Physical description

Circular flat base, slightly tapering walls terminating in a narrow rib and a short, recessed rim to hold the cover. The cover has a low, everted base, slightly sloping wide shoulder and a ribbed dome with a knop-shaped finial.

Each rib on the dome of the cover is engraved with a lotus-bud-shaped cartouche, inlaid with a silver band that frames a smaller ring-matted lotus-bud motif.

The sloping shoulder carries a continuous epigraphic band. Another epigraphic band on the everted rim is divided into three cartouches with incurving sides.

On the walls of the body, the decoration is divided into three horizontal silver inlaid epigraphic bands, framed by copper fillets. the upper and lower inscriptions are placed upon a scrolling foliate ground.
The central band has a plain ring-matted ground. Three cartouches with lobed-sides and cusped arches are inlaid with copper. Their frames interlace through silver knots with the copper bands encircling the top and the base.
The cartouches once held attachment plates, now missing. Some of the attachment holes now plugged with copper.

On the underside of the base, a small roundel encloses an engraved bird on a ground of foliate scrollwork. Around this, three carrtouches framed with copper fillets enclose foliate scrolls engraved on a ring-matted ground.

Patina: fine reddish brown, regrettably over-lacquered; the underside brown olive, the olive hue of the alloy showing through in places.

Place of Origin

Khurasan (made)
Iran (made)
Herat (possibly, made)
Afghanistan (made)


1150-1200 (cast)


Unknown (made)

Materials and Techniques

Cast brass alloy. Engraved champlevé designs partly inlaid with silver and copper, the ground filled with black composition.

Marks and inscriptions

"Might, auspicious fate, good fortune, constancy, plenitude, and... (incomplete)"
Inscription around the lid.

With bliss and divine grace, with bliss and divine grace, with bliss, godliness and A-L!
kufic; base of the cover

Might, auspicious fate, good fortune, A, constancy, lasting life f[or ever]
With felicity and godliness and, with felicity and godliness A-A, with felicity and godliness and A
naskhi; 1st and 2nd bands (from the top) on the walls

....or ever to its owner! And L-A, and divine mercy and divine solicitude, and lasting life for ever to its owner!
naskhi; the third and lowest band on the walls which continues from the above


Height: 10.4 cm with cover, Height: 6 cm without cover, Diameter: 7.95 cm of vesel at moulding level, Diameter: 8.15 - 8.3 cm of underside, Diameter: 8.2 cm of cover shoulder, Diameter: 7.9 - 8 cm of cover base

Object history note

Purchased for £5, 10s from Jules Richard, after the Paris Exhibition, November 1889.

Descriptive line

Metalwork. Inkwell with domed lid, cast brass alloy with silver and copper inlay, Arabic inscriptions, possibly from Herat, Khurasan, Iran or Afghanistan, 1150-1200

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

A.S. Melikian-Chirvani, Islamic Metalwork from the Iranian World, 8th-18th Centuries (London: HMSO, 1982), no.51, pp.123-124.

Labels and date

Brass and bronze with silver inlay.
PERSIAN; late 12th century [Used until 10/2002]


Bronze; Silver; Copper


Engraved; Inlaid

Subjects depicted





Middle East Section

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