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Inkwell with Zodiac Signs

Object Name:
Inkwell
Date:
early 13th century
Geography:
probably Iran
Culture:
Islamic
Medium:
Brass; cast, inlaid with silver, copper, and black compound
Dimensions:
H. 5 7/8 in. (14.9 cm) H. w/o lid: 3 5/8 in. (9.2 cm) Diam. 4 9/16 in. (11.6 cm)
Classification:
Metal
Credit Line:
Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1959
Accession Number:
59.69.2a, b
  • Description

    One of the innovations of the Khurasani metalworkers is the development of animated inscriptions, in which parts of letters are transformed into animal or human figures. Here, the tall letters of the inscription on the lid are embellished with human heads. The use of animated inscriptions traveled westward, appearing on metalwork produced in western Iran, Iraq, and Syria, but was never adopted in other media. The body of the inkwell is decorated with the twelve signs of the zodiac.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Arabic, in Kufic script;
    Translation by Yassir al-Tabba (1978):
    -lid: "Continuing glory, increasing prosperity, secure life, and good fortune";
    -top: "Glory, prosperity, dominion, dominion ... ".

    In Naskhi script:
    On the lid:
    العز الدائم/ و الاقبال ا/لزائدو العمر ام/م السالم و الجد
    Inside
    العز وا/ لاقبال/ و الدولـ/ـة و الد/ واله واا/

    A.Ghouchani

  • Provenance

    Charles Mège, Paris(by 1903); [ Brimo de Laroussilhe, Paris, until 1959; sold to MMA]

  • See also
    What
    Where
    When
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
451491

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