Incense Burner of Amir Saif al-Dunya wa’l-Din ibn Muhammad al-Mawardi
Ja`far ibn Muhammad ibn `Ali
dated A.H. 577/ A.D. 1181–82
Bronze; cast, engraved, chased, pierced
OveralL. H. 33 1/2 in. (85.1 cm)
L. 32 1/2 in. (82.6 cm)
W. 9 in. (22.9 cm)
L. from heel of back foot to toe of front foot: 22 in. (55.9 cm)
L. from toe of front foot to tip of nose: 4 in. (10.2 cm)
L. from heel of back foot to tip of taiL. 7 in. (17.8 cm)
Rogers Fund, 1951
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 453
Zoomorphic incense burners were popular during the Seljuq period. This lion-shaped example is exceptional for its monumental scale, the refinement of its engraved ornament, and the wealth of information provided by the Arabic calligraphic bands inscribed on its body. These include the names of the patron and the artist, as well as the date of manufacture. The head is removable so that coal and incense could be placed inside, and the body and neck are pierced so that the scented smoke could escape. The lion certainly would have been at home in a palatial setting.
Inscription: Inscription in Arabic in kufic script around neck and continued on chest:
امر به الامیر العادل العالم/ سیف الدنیا والدین بن محمد/ الماوردي
Ordered by the just and wise prince Saif al-Dunya wa’l-Din ibn Muhammad al-Mawardi
Inscription in Arabic in kufic script on left and right bosses and boss on chest:
السعاد ةالاقبال السلامة
Happiness, prosperity, well-being
Signature in Arabic in kufic script at left, on chest, and on right foot:
عمل جعفر بن محمد بن علي سنة سبع وسبعین وخمسمائة
Work of Ja‘far son of Muhammad son of ‘Ali in the year A.H. 577 [1181– 82 A.D.]
[ Khalil Rabenou, New York, until 1951; sold to MMA]
James, David, and Richard Ettinghausen. Arab Painting. 3, vol. 29. New Delhi: Marg Publications, 1977. p. 9, ill. p. 9 (b/w).
Welch, Stuart Cary. The Islamic World. vol. 11. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987. pp. 39-41, ill. fig. 27 (color).
Ferrier, Ronald W., ed. The Arts of Persia. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989. pp. 171, 173, ill. pl. 5 (b/w).
de Montebello, Philippe, and Kathleen Howard, ed. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. 6th ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1992. p. 316, ill. fig. 11 (color).
Burn, Barbara, ed. Masterpieces of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York; Boston: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1993. p. 78, ill. (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. 85, pp. 6, 129-131, ill. p. 130 (color).
Canby, Sheila R. "The Scented World : Incense Burners and Perfume Containers from Spain to Central Asia." Arts of Asia vol. 42 (2012). pp. 124-125, ill. fig. 11 (color).
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012. p. 129, ill. (color).