A large assembly with an audience of ten people, or singers, surrounding the ’ud-player is depicted on this turquoise bowl. Bowls of fruit suggest the festive nature of the event.
This bowl represents an aspect of a theme redolent of the lives of the elite: musical entertainment and feasting. A large gathering is depicted on this mina’i bowl, where ten people, all but one seated, encircle the lute player, perhaps representing his audience or a group of singers. The raised bowls full of fruit further suggest the festive nature of the event. The presence of poetic inscriptions points to the close relation between music and poetry, which was often recited at social gatherings and majālis.
The instruments depicted is a variation of the lute. The one here is an ’ud, of which the sound box and neck are made separately. Despite religious proscriptions, music was the subject of many Arabic texts, from those continuing the Late Antique philosophical exploration of the physical properties and effects of sound to those on musical theory and the mystical aspects of listening to music. Musicians could be male or female; those depicted here are men.
In this large musical assembly, the sumptuous clothes and jewels evoke a luxurious setting. Although such entertainments would have taken place among persons of high rank and social and cultural elites, this scene may have been intended specifically to depict a courtly setting, and indeed, musicians and enthroned figures often appear together. Their presence on a sophisticated, yet utilitarian, object such as this bowl, paired with the blessings added in the inscription, speaks to the symbolic beneficence of courtly and princely life in the visual language of the period.
Martina Rugiadi in [Canby, Beyazit, and Rugiadi 2016]
Inscription: -On bowl, in angular script: "lasting happiness"
-On inside rim: "good wishes"
-Around outside, in cursive script (Persian): (undeciphered; last three words are "prevailing help to the owner")
Outside in Naskhi script and Persian language:
هر دم همه ساله مي دود در تک و تاز یک چند بناخوشي ....
... جهد مرگ کوتاه کند همه حدیثان؟ دراز
Always, everyear running in attacking and fighting, sometimes with malady ….
… against death, Make short all long speech.
And contenue with Arabic language:
عز دائم و الاقبال الزاید و النصر الغالب لصاحبه
Glory for ever and good fortune and conqueror victory for the owner.
Annemarie Schimmel read part of the inscriptions as:
continuous glory, continuous fortune, happiness, wellbeing ...
Part of the inscription read by Annemarie Schimmel as:
Marking: -Sticker on underside: Leberthon -Sticker on underside: 3026
Henry G. Leberthon, Hempstead, NY (by 1936–d. 1939; bequeathed to Mrs. Chauncey); Louise Ruxton Chauncey, New York (1939–57; gifted to MMA)
Asia Society. "Iranian Ceramics," May 3, 1963–September 12, 1963, no. 63.
London. Royal Academy of Arts. "Turks: A Journey of a Thousand Years, 600–1600," January 22, 2005–April 15, 2005, no. 42.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Rumi," October 15, 2007–March 5, 2008, no catalogue.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Court and Cosmos: The Great Age of the Seljuqs," April 25, 2016–July 24, 2016, no. 87.
Wilkinson, Charles K. Iranian Ceramics. New York: Asia House Gallery, 1963. no. 63, p. 132, ill. pl. 63, exterior (b/w), interior (color).
Jenkins-Madina, Marilyn. "Islamic Pottery: A Brief History." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, New Series, vol. 40, no. 4 (Spring 1983). no. 19, pp. 18-19, ill. pl. 19 (color).
Welch, Stuart Cary. The Islamic World. vol. 11. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987. p. 37, ill. fig. 24 (color).
Roxburgh, David J., ed. Turks: Journey of a Thousand Years, 600–1600. London, New York: Royal Academy of Arts, 2005. no. 42, p. 88, ill. fig. 42 (color).
Canby, Sheila R., Deniz Beyazit, and Martina Rugiadi. "The Great Age of the Seljuqs." In Court and Cosmos. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2016. no. 88, pp. 157-158, ill. p. 158 (color).