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Ewer

Ewer

  • Place of origin:

    Egypt (made)
    Cairo (probably, made)

  • Date:

    1496 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Ahmad (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Brass hammered and inlaid with silver and possibly copper

  • Museum number:

    762-1900

  • Gallery location:

    Islamic Middle East, Room 42, The Jameel Gallery, case 18

According to the inscription, this ewer was made for Fatima, the wife of Sultan Qa’itbay (ruled 1468–1496). In contrast to the wares produced for the many religious buildings furnished by the pious sultan, which were appropriately aniconic in their decoration as required under the tenets of Islam, Fatima’s ewer includes bands of real and fantastic animals amidst luxuriant trees. Similar imagery was used in Arabic poetry and had mystical connotations (such as the verdancy of Paradise); it seems safe to assume that this was not lost on Fatima herself.

Physical description

Large ewer on a footed base, with flared mouth, bulbous element on neck leading to rounded body, tapered stem and flared foot. Curved handle runs from neck to top of the body, spout long and thin ending in polygonal element. Some damage to body, bulbous element on neck possibly later, repairs to base of handle. All over decoration of arabesques and animal designs with large inscription band in thuluth script. Band of running animals around body features elephants, deer and lions.

Place of Origin

Egypt (made)
Cairo (probably, made)

Date

1496 (made)

Artist/maker

Ahmad (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Brass hammered and inlaid with silver and possibly copper

Marks and inscriptions

مما عمل برسم ذات الستر الرفيع و الحجاب المنيع خوند الكبیرة جهت المقام​ الشريف مولانا السلطان الملك الاشرف قايتباي عزنصره
Made for Fatima, the wife of Qa'itbay (1468-1496)
Arabic; Thuluth; Around body

inscription
Made by Ahmad
underneath foot

Dimensions

Height: 47.6 cm, Width: 36 cm

Descriptive line

Ewer made for the wife of Sultan Qa'itbay, Egypt (probably Cairo), 1496.

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. 56, 98, plate 103
Ward, Rachel. Islamic Metalwork. London: British Museum Press, 1993. ISBN 0-7141-1458-8. p. 117, Fig 94
E.Atil, Renaissance of Islam. Art of the Mamluks, 1981, p. 53.
L. A. Mayer, Islamic Metalworkers and Their Works (Geneva: Albert Kundig, 1959), p. 27.
D. S. Rice, "Studies in Islamic Metal Work IV," Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 15 (1953), pl. VI.

Labels and date

Ewer for Sultan Qa'itbay's Wife
Egypt, probably Cairo
Dated 1496

According to its inscription, the ewer was made for Fatimah, the wife of Sultan Qa'itbay. Naming a female patron was rare. The decoration, too, is unusual for its period, as it shows animals. These appear among trees on the lower part of the body and the neck.

Brass inlaid with silver, copper and coloured compositions. Made by Ahmad

Museum no. 762-1900 [Jameel Gallery]

Production Note

made by Ahmad

Materials

Copper; Silver; Brass

Techniques

Hammering; Soldering; Inlay

Categories

Islam; Metalwork; Africa

Collection

Middle East Section

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