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  • Place of origin:

    Egypt (made)

  • Date:

    1000-1200 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Earthenware, pierced and incised decoration

  • Credit Line:

    Given by G.D. Hornblower, Esq.

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Islamic Middle East, Room 42, The Jameel Gallery, case 1W

This filter fitted into the neck of a water bottle and kept out flies and dust. Such filters were often pierced to form designs. These included abstract patterns, calligraphic inscriptions and figural imagery, such as the elephant seen here.

The filter and the water bottle had a porous body of unglazed earthenware. This allowed water to evaporate through the sides, keeping the contents cool. This practical advantage meant that unglazed water vessels were common in both the pre-Islamic and Islamic periods.

Physical description

Fatimid earthenware strainer fragment depicting an elephant in incised and pierced decoration.

Place of Origin

Egypt (made)


1000-1200 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Earthenware, pierced and incised decoration


Diameter: 8.5 cm

Object history note

Found in excavations in Fustat.

Historical context note

Strainers were made fit inside the neck of jugs intended to contain water or other liquids to prevent insects from entering. Typically used during the Fatimid and Ayyubid periods, a number have been found in excavations in Fustat, Egypt some with their accompanying jugs. Usually of buff earthenware, though lustre painted and glazed examples exist, they feature anthropomorphic, vegetal and calligraphic designs.

Descriptive line

Filter from a water-jar, pierced and incised to form a picture of an elephant, Egypt, 11th-12th century.

Labels and date

Jameel Gallery

12–13 Filters from Two Water Bottles
Egypt, 1000–1200
Pierced earthenware
Museum nos. C.863, 902-1921
Given by G.D. Hornblower, Esq.
[Jameel Gallery]

Production Note

Found in excavations in Fustat.




Incising; Piercing

Subjects depicted



Islam; Earthenware; Drinking; Africa

Production Type

Mass produced


Middle East Section

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