Pierced Jug with Harpies and Sphinxes

Object Name:
dated A.H. 612/ A.D. 1215–16
Iran, probably Kashan
Stonepaste; openwork decoration, polychrome painted under turquoise glaze
H. 8 3/16 in. (20.8 cm) Diam. 6 5/8 in. (16.8 cm)
Credit Line:
Fletcher Fund, 1932
Accession Number:
  • Description

    This jug has a carved and pierced outer shell that surrounds a solid inner container. The openwork with harpies, sphinxes, quadrupeds, and scrolls was first painted with touches of black and cobalt blue, and then the entire jug was covered in a turquoise glaze. The Persian verses around the rim were written by the poet Rukn al‑Din Da'vidar Qummi, and an anonymous love poem near the base includes the date of production.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    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]

  • Provenance

    V. Everit Macy, New York (by 1923–d. 1930; his estate, 1930–32; sold to MMA)

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History