Silver; fire-gilded, with stamped beading, silver shot, applied decoration, decorative wire, cabochon carnelians, and turquoise beads
4 1/2 x 5 1/8 in. (11.4 x 13 cm)
Gift of Marshall and Marilyn R. Wolf, 2005
Not on view
This charming teapot-shaped ornament in typical Kazakh style is sumptuous yet whimsical. The charm of the piece derives from its small scale (41⁄2 inches high) and zoomorphic quality. The decorative repertoire is remarkable even for the highly inventive Kazakh style: silver shot is used to create a necklet and scale pattern that resembles granulation for the birdlike spout and snake-headed handle. The object recalls the Islamic world’s fondness for its animals and domesticated pets, evidenced in bejeweled falcons, ewes with necklaces, and magnificently outfitted horses. The ornament, perhaps commissioned by a wealthy patron involved in the tea trade, was modeled on both Islamic and European prototypes. The use of snakes and dragons’ heads as spouts was a longstanding tradition in Islamic metalwork, one that continued in nineteenth-century Bukharan engraved brass ewers. The work also vividly recalls the taste for exotica recorded throughout Islamic history and especially evident at the Mughal court. A Mughal pouring vessel made of dark green jade and inlaid with a transparent enamel design of poppies has a similar scale to the Wolf ornament and is also shaped like a teapot. Another precedent for the work was certainly the small, globular porcelain teapots that were made by Gardner, a Russian firm. These were sold as common trade items in Central Asia, presented in easily transportable boxes with compartments (see photograph, p. 220 in this volume).
Layla S. Diba in [Diba 2011]
12. Kalter, Johannes. The Arts and Crafts of Turkestan. New York, 1983, p. 79, fig. 60; Kalter, Johannes, and Margareta Pavaloi, eds. Uzbekistan: Heirs to the Silk Road. New York, 1997, p. 316, fig. 340, p. 318, figs. 647 and 648, and pp. 320–21, figs. 651 and 655–57.
13. The Indian Heritage: Court Life and Arts under Mughal Rule. Exh. cat., Victoria and Albert Museum. London, 1982, p. 120, entry 362, color ill. no. 15. The work is described as a wine pot and dated to the late seventeenth–early eighteenth century.
Marshall and Marilyn R. Wolf, Toronto, Canada (until 2005; gifted to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Turkmen Jewelry," October 9, 2012–February 24, 2013, no. 181.
Diba, Layla S. "Silver Ornaments from the Marshall and Marilyn R. Wolf Collection." In Turkmen Jewelry. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011. no. 181, pp. 41, 220, ill. fig. 3, pl. 181.