Spoon thumbnail 1
Spoon thumbnail 2
Not currently on display at the V&A

Spoon

1850-69
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Large carved wooden spoons such as this – each with a boat-shaped bowl, long rhomboidal handle, curved ‘buttress’ and a rosette at the join – were made from up to seven separate parts, each finely carved from lime wood and adhered together with glue. The bowl was carved into a ribbed pattern and further ornamented with either Persian inscriptions along the outer edges – each alluding to desire, taste, or love - or with a single band of vegetal scrolls. The rosette, buttress and handle were all carved with a fine openwork pattern of geometric motifs arranged in registers around a central panel of floral sprays.

The finesse in which this spoon was carved suggests its use for dignitary or elite members of society during banquets or special ceremonies. Indeed, Iranian paintings from the early to mid-nineteenth century show such spoons placed delicately along the edges of large porcelain bowls, floating upon the surface, the contents of which contained sherbet. These spoons were used communally amongst guests, often with several guests drinking from the same spoon.

Major R. Murdoch Smith discusses the Iranian town of Abadeh (between Isfahan and Shiraz) as being the main centre of Persian wood carving during the period of 1800-1900. This town was famous for its elaborately carved spoons (qashuq) and small boxes, all made of either pear or lime wood, and carved with a common pocket-knife.

This spoon was purchased at the Paris Exhibition of 1867. Reporting on the Museum’s Iranian holdings to date in May 1873, Robert Murdoch Smith assessed a set of wooden spoons a follows: “All these spoons are made of the wood of the pear tree at the small town of Abadeh (not Shiraz). They are usually made in three sizes, the largest for taking sherbet, the medium size for soup, pilau etc. and the smallest for pickles. These are fair specimens of this kind of work.” (V&A Archives).


object details
Category
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Pearwood; carved; pierced
Brief Description
Carved wooden spoon, Iran (Abadeh), Qajar period, 1850-1869
Physical Description
Sherbet spoon comprised of seven parts of finely carved pear wood, with a long triangular shaped handle carved with both pierced and relief decoration of floral sprays and arabesques. A similar decoration appears on the circular roundel attaching the handle to the ladle, with two semi-circular pierced panels with paisley flowers covering half of the ladle. A final semi-circular support carved again with pierced arabesques supports the base of the handle and ladle below the roundel.
Dimensions
  • Length: 51cm
  • Of ladle width: 7cm
Style
Object history
Purchased at the Paris Exhibition of 1867.
Associations
Summary
Large carved wooden spoons such as this – each with a boat-shaped bowl, long rhomboidal handle, curved ‘buttress’ and a rosette at the join – were made from up to seven separate parts, each finely carved from lime wood and adhered together with glue. The bowl was carved into a ribbed pattern and further ornamented with either Persian inscriptions along the outer edges – each alluding to desire, taste, or love - or with a single band of vegetal scrolls. The rosette, buttress and handle were all carved with a fine openwork pattern of geometric motifs arranged in registers around a central panel of floral sprays.



The finesse in which this spoon was carved suggests its use for dignitary or elite members of society during banquets or special ceremonies. Indeed, Iranian paintings from the early to mid-nineteenth century show such spoons placed delicately along the edges of large porcelain bowls, floating upon the surface, the contents of which contained sherbet. These spoons were used communally amongst guests, often with several guests drinking from the same spoon.



Major R. Murdoch Smith discusses the Iranian town of Abadeh (between Isfahan and Shiraz) as being the main centre of Persian wood carving during the period of 1800-1900. This town was famous for its elaborately carved spoons (qashuq) and small boxes, all made of either pear or lime wood, and carved with a common pocket-knife.



This spoon was purchased at the Paris Exhibition of 1867. Reporting on the Museum’s Iranian holdings to date in May 1873, Robert Murdoch Smith assessed a set of wooden spoons a follows: “All these spoons are made of the wood of the pear tree at the small town of Abadeh (not Shiraz). They are usually made in three sizes, the largest for taking sherbet, the medium size for soup, pilau etc. and the smallest for pickles. These are fair specimens of this kind of work.” (V&A Archives).

Bibliographic References
  • Major R. Murdoch Smith, Persian Art (Chapman and Hall: London, 1876), p. 38-9.
  • Diba, Layla S. (Ed.) Royal Persian Paintings: The Qajar Epoch, 1785-1925 London, 1998p.214, fig.64a
Collection
Accession Number
932A/1-1869

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record createdJune 24, 2009
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