Art/ Collection/ Art Object


9th–10th century
Excavated in Iran, Nishapur
Steatite; carved, incised
H. 1 3/4 in. (4.4 cm) W. 3 3/4 in. (9.5 cm) L. 4 1/2 in. (11.4 cm)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1938
Accession Number:
Not on view
The carving of utensils and other objects from soft stones is an extremely ancient art in the Near East. Steatite and other related talcs (the English word is of Persian origin) are easy to carve, relatively strong and non-brittle and are impervious to fire. Many of medieval Nishapur's stone utensils were, despite a lowly material and a utilitarian function, of very high artistic merit. They often have powerfully sculptural forms, and their silhouettes, from various angles, take the form of beautiful two-dimensional patterns. Some pieces were at least partially colored with pigment.
1937, excavated at Sabz Pushan in Nishapur, Iran by the Metropolitan Museum of Art's expedition; 1938, acquired by the Museum in the division of finds

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