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Pierced Jug with Harpies and Sphinxes

Object Name:
Ewer
Date:
dated A.H. 612/ A.D. 1215–16
Geography:
Iran, Kashan
Culture:
Islamic
Medium:
Stonepaste; openwork, underglaze-painted, glazed in transparent turquoise
Dimensions:
H. 8 3/16 in. (20.8 cm) Diam. 6 5/8 in. (16.8 cm) Wt. 36.2 oz. (1026.4 g)
Classification:
Ceramics
Credit Line:
Fletcher Fund, 1932
Accession Number:
32.52.1
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 999
This jug exemplifies the virtuosity of Seljuq and post-Seljuq potters in Iran. Over a solid inner core, the outer layer of its neck and upper body is carved and pierced, featuring deer, dogs, cheetahs, winged sphinxes, and harpies entwined in foliage. The beneficial symbolism of these animals, all of which sport slight smiles, is at odds with the regretful tone of the Persian and Arabic poetry on the rim and lower body.
Inscription: Inscription around mouth of jug, a Persian ruba‘i (quatrain)
by Rukn al-Din Da‘vidar Qummi:
من بی تو همان سر زده ام فارغ باش
همواره بهم بر زده ام فارغ باش
دست از تو بمهر دیگری از سر تو
بیزار شدم گر زده ام فارغ باش
Without you, I am depraved; Be free from care.
Ceaselessly, I am unsettled; Be free from care.
[Turning] from you, I reach for the kindness of another, because of you.
Although I have done so, I despised it; Be free from care.

(Diwan Rukn al-din Da‘vidar Qummi, ed Ali Mohaddith, Amir Kabir publication, Tehran, 1365/1986 p.)

Inscription around base of jug, a Persian ruba‘i by an as-yet-unidentified poet:
گفتم چو رسد بزلف دانی دستم
دل باز ستانم وز محنت رستم
یک لحظه چو در پیش رخش بنشتم
جان نیز چو دل در سر زلفش بستم
I said, “[Do] you know, if my hand reaches her tresses,
I [could] reclaim my heart and be free from suffering.”
One moment, while sitting face-to-face with her,
I tied my soul, like my heart, to the end of her curls.

Inscription following the above:
في شهور سنة إثني عشر و ستمائة
In the months of the year A.H. 612 [A.D. 1215–16]
V. Everit Macy, New York (by 1923–d. 1930; his estate, 1930–32; sold to MMA)
Dimand, Maurice S. "The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, May 12 to June 28, 1931." In Loan Exhibition of Ceramic Art of the Near East. New York, 1931. no. 94, pp. 22--23, ill. pl. 94 (b/w).

Lane, Arthur. "Mesopotamia, Egypt and Persia." In Early Islamic Pottery. Faber Monographs on Pottery and Porcelain. London: Faber and Faber, 1947. p. 45, ill. pl. 83B (b/w).

Dimand, Maurice S. A Handbook of Muhammadan Art. 2nd rev. and enl. ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1944. p. 180, ill. fig. 113 (b/w).

Wilkinson, Charles K. Iranian Ceramics. New York: Asia House Gallery, 1963. no. 52, pp. 7, 129, ill. pl. 52 (b/w).

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Masterpieces of Fifty Centuries: the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., 1970. no. 163, p. 184, ill. (b/w).

Ettinghausen, Richard, and Oleg Grabar. The Art and Architecture of Islam: 650-1250. Middlesex, England: Penguin Books, 1987. p. 347, ill. fig. 371 (b/w).

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012. p. 130, ill. (color).

Yarshater, Ehsan, ed. Encyclopaedia Iranica vol. 5 (1992). p. 316, ill. pl. XXII (b/w).

Canby, Sheila R., Deniz Beyazit, Martina Rugiadi, and A. C. S. Peacock. "The Great Age of the Seljuqs." In Court and Cosmos. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2016. no. 143, p. 229, ill. (color).

de Montebello, Philippe, and Kathleen Howard, ed. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. 6th ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1992. p. 317, ill. fig. 15 (color).

Ettinghausen, Richard, Oleg Grabar, and Marilyn Jenkins-Madina. Islamic Art and Architecture 650-1250. 2nd ed. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2001. p. 177, ill. fig. 277 (color).

Ekhtiar, Maryam, Sheila R. Canby, Navina Haidar, and Priscilla P. Soucek, ed. Masterpieces from the Department of Islamic Art in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1st ed. ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011. no. 73, pp. 115-116, ill. p. 115 (color).



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