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Collecting Turkmen Jewelry: The Marshall and Marilyn R. Wolf Collection

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Base for a Water Pipe (Huqqa) with Poetry and Flowers

Object Name:
Water pipe base
Date:
early 18th century
Geography:
India, Deccan
Culture:
Islamic
Medium:
Zinc alloy; cast, engraved, inlaid with silver and brass (bidri ware)
Dimensions:
4 1/2 in. (11.5 cm)
Classification:
Metal
Credit Line:
Purchase, Friends of Islamic Art Gifts, 2003
Accession Number:
2003.271
  • Description

    The inlaid brass and silver decoration is placed in diagonal cartouches running along the body of the huqqa base, with Persian verses praising tobacco in nasta‘liq script. The poem on the body of the base consists of eleven rhymed couplets which contain several playful puns referring to the relaxation resulting from smoking a huqqa. This style of ornamentation with flowers and line-breaks resembles that in Deccani manuscript illuminations. It is rare to have inlaid calligraphy in bidri ware. This is thus an unusual piece.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: On the shoulders:
    As my lips open up to praise the tobacco
    My tongue will wash the flame with the water of Kawthar [a river in Paradise]
    It is because of this [tobacco] that the temperament of nobles and plebeians has been drawn to it;
    That is why with this burning head one has a love affair with every one.
    On the body:
    The refresher of gatherings of the intoxicated and the sober
    the cheering of the temperament of free and the captive;
    Its fumes increase the value of love
    so that its perpetual speech becomes the name: O the loving!
    It won’t let you hold your breath for a moment,
    since it is independent of the watch of the hypocritical voices;
    Its tongue would flow to a quaint saying
    its tradition is the Sahih of Bukhari (the newly prepared one would be perfect with its vapors)
    It removes melancholy from those affected;
    a sigh comes out like the heat of life.
    Its sounds are in the cities and orchards;
    it is better than the noise made in the enameled goblet of the intoxicated ones
    When it prepares for singing according to custom, it plays the qanun in nava
    It sometimes is in tune with a flute, sometimes with a lute.
    In its body there is continuous water with a loud cry;
    Out of its passion, the heart of the fire rages;
    Out of its leaf, it provides an apparatus for merry-making.
    Its flute has a long life of pleasure-giving;
    in praising it, the tongue is a zealous pen;
    From its…there is commotion.
    It has become happy from the ups and downs of the world,
    because it is constantly in water and fire.

    translated by Manijeh Bayani

    Marking: Stamped on bottom with a seal that appears to read "'malikahu"? (property of) Shaikh Ahmad".

  • Provenance

    Private collection, Germany; [ Sam Fogg, London, until 2003; sold to MMA]

  • See also
    What
    Where
    When
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
454601

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