Writing Box

1302-1303 (made)
Writing Box thumbnail 1
Writing Box thumbnail 2
+64
images
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Islamic Middle East, Room 42, The Jameel Gallery
Place Of Origin

The lid of this pen box carries the name of Sultan Dawud of Yemen. He was a member of the Egyptian Rasulid dynasty, which had close connections with the Mamluk sultans of Cairo. They may have sent the box as a gift.

Here the Rasulid badge of a five-petalled rosette has been inlaid over an earlier device of an eagle with outstretched wings. This later work took place either in Yemen or Egypt.

Metalworkers often transformed objects made from brass by adding sophisticated inlaid surface ornament. For larger motifs, they chiselled out small areas of brass and filled them with thin sheets of silver, gold and copper. They added detail by chasing the surface of the softer metals created contrast with a black filler, as on this piece. This technique is known as niello.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 4 parts.

  • Writing Box
  • Inkwell
  • Inkwell
  • Sand Box
Materials and Techniques
Brass inlaid with gold and silver, and niello
Brief Description
Brass writing box, Egypt, dated 1302-3.
Physical Description
Pen box made of brass inlaid with gold and silver and niello, inscribed with the titles of al-Muyyad Da'ud of the Rasulid Dynasty of Yemen.
Dimensions
  • Height: 12.5cm
  • Length: 34.5cm
  • Diameter: 17.7cm
Style
Production typeUnique
Gallery Label
Jameel Gallery Writing Box Egypt Dated 1302 The lid carries the name of Sultan Dawud of Yemen. His dynasty, the Rasulids, had close connections with the Mamluk sultans of Cairo, who may have sent the box as a gift. Either in Yemen or Egypt, the Rasulids' badge, a five-petalled rosette, was inlaid over an earlier device, an eagle with outstretched wings. Brass with inlay of silver, gold and a black composition; the ink pots and sand pot are later replacements Museum no. 370 to C-1897(Jameel Gallery)
Object history
For a recent discussion of the use of the (red) rosette as the dynastic symbol of the Rasulids of Yemen, see Noha Sadek, "Red Rosettes: Colors of Power and Piety in Rasulid Yemen", in Jonathan Bloom and Sheila Blair, editors, And Diverse are Their Hues: Color in Islamic Art and Culture, New Haven and London, 2011, pp.222-243.



Purchased on behalf of the South Kensington Museum (today the V&A) in 1897 from Edgar and Alice Whitaker, executors for the Istanbul estate of William Henry Wrench (1836-96), British Consul to Ottoman Turkey. During his diplomatic career, Wrench had assembled a private art collection of paintings, ceramics, metalwork, arms, textiles, carpets and other furnishings. These were well-known to curators at South Kensington: in 1892, the Museum purchased a set of four photographs, recording how Wrench had displayed the collection in his home in Pera, Istanbul.
Production
Dated AH 702, equivalent to the period between 26 August 1302 and 14 August 1303.
Summary
The lid of this pen box carries the name of Sultan Dawud of Yemen. He was a member of the Egyptian Rasulid dynasty, which had close connections with the Mamluk sultans of Cairo. They may have sent the box as a gift.



Here the Rasulid badge of a five-petalled rosette has been inlaid over an earlier device of an eagle with outstretched wings. This later work took place either in Yemen or Egypt.



Metalworkers often transformed objects made from brass by adding sophisticated inlaid surface ornament. For larger motifs, they chiselled out small areas of brass and filled them with thin sheets of silver, gold and copper. They added detail by chasing the surface of the softer metals created contrast with a black filler, as on this piece. This technique is known as niello.
Collection
Accession Number
370-1897

About this object record

Explore the Collections contains over a million catalogue records, and over half a million images. It is a working database that includes information compiled over the life of the museum. Some of our records may contain offensive and discriminatory language, or reflect outdated ideas, practice and analysis. We are committed to addressing these issues, and to review and update our records accordingly.

You can write to us to suggest improvements to the record.

Suggest Feedback

record createdJanuary 13, 2005
Record URL