Ascetic's Bowl

ca. 1500 (made)
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Islamic Middle East, Room 42, The Jameel Gallery
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Bowls for collecting alms were used by dervishes, the name given to Muslim mystics who lived in religious poverty. This example is engraved along the rim with a Shi’ite prayer for the Fourteen Immaculates. These were the members of Muhammad's family whom the Shi'ite Muslims of Iran hold in greatest esteem. The Safavid dynasty (ruled 1501-1722), who came to power about the time this bowl was made, were both Shi’ite Muslims and the leaders of a dervish order.

This bowl is made of copper covered with a layer of tin. It would once have shone like silver. This bright surface would have contrasted strongly with the recessed background, which was filled with a black composition.


object details
Category
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Tinned copper
Brief Description
Beggar's bowl, Iran, about 1500.
Physical Description
Dervish's wallet or kashkul, boat-shaped, made of tinned copper and engraved with Arabic text and floral decoration.
Dimensions
  • Maximum length: 25cm
  • Maximum height: 11.9cm
  • Maximum depth: 13.5cm
Style
Marks and Inscriptions
  • Inscription band consists of prayer calling God's blessings on the Fourteen Protected Ones
  • Underside of the vessel has owner's mark incised in the 18th century, and superimposed by another owner's mark in the 19th century. Only the date of the earlier mark can be made out under the new inscription.
  • Second inscription
Gallery Label
  • Jameel Gallery Beggar's bowl Iran or Afghanistan About 1500 Bowls for collecting alms were used by dervishes - Muslim mystics who lived in religious poverty. This example is engraved along the rim with a Shi'ite prayer for the Fourteen Immaculates. The Safavid dynasty, who came to power about the time this bowl was made, were both Shi'ites and the leaders of a dervish order. Copper engraved, tinned and filled with a black composition Museum no. 755-1889(Jameel Gallery)
  • DERVISH'S WALLET Tinned copper PERSIAN; 18th century (Richard Collection) DERVISH'S BEGGING BOWL Tinned copper, engraved with Arabic texts and floral scrolls. PERSIAN; 17th century(Used until 10/2002)
Object history
Historical significance: Possibly the earliest datable prayer on metal calling God's blessing on the Fourteen Immaculates.
Summary
Bowls for collecting alms were used by dervishes, the name given to Muslim mystics who lived in religious poverty. This example is engraved along the rim with a Shi’ite prayer for the Fourteen Immaculates. These were the members of Muhammad's family whom the Shi'ite Muslims of Iran hold in greatest esteem. The Safavid dynasty (ruled 1501-1722), who came to power about the time this bowl was made, were both Shi’ite Muslims and the leaders of a dervish order.



This bowl is made of copper covered with a layer of tin. It would once have shone like silver. This bright surface would have contrasted strongly with the recessed background, which was filled with a black composition.
Bibliographic References
  • A. S. Melikian-Chirvani, Islamic Metalwork from the Iranian World 8-18th Centuries, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1982, pp.253-54, no.112.
  • Linda Komaroff, The Golden Disk of Heaven: Metalwork of Timurid Iran Costa Mesa, California, and New York, 1992, pp.203, 205, no.23.
Collection
Accession Number
755-1889

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record createdMarch 18, 2003
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