Copper alloy, cast in parts, pierced, and engraved
H: 5 7/8 in. (15 cm); w. with handle: 12 3/16 in. (31 cm); diam: 7 1/16 in. (18 cm)
Malcove Collection, University of Toronto Art Centre, University of Toronto (M82.409)
Not on view
Three related incense burners (in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Malcove Collection, University of Toronto Art Centre, University of Toronto, and Musée du Louvre, Département des Antiquités Égyptiennes, Paris) with ornate domed lids are covered with openwork foliate decoration. Created centuries apart, they illustrate a common domestic object gradually evolving under Byzantine and Islamic rule. Their decoration evokes plenty, the triumph of good over evil, and the promise of eternal life—ideas that occur frequently in the art and inscriptions of the Byzantine and the Islamic worlds. This censer is a rare example of a complete burner with its handle. While made in the eighth century, all the motifs continued to be drawn from the Byzantine repertoire. Vine scrolls are inhabited with animals, standing females, and other human figures. The feet are pomegranates, common emblems of fertility.