Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Boat-Shaped Bowl with Human Head and Animals

Object Name:
late 11th–12th century
Made in Iran
Stonepaste; molded, opaque white glaze
H. 3 3/8 in. (8.6 cm)
W. 4 3/8 in. (11.1 cm)
L. 6 3/4 in. (17.1 cm)
Wt. 6.2 oz. (175.8 g)
Credit Line:
Harry Dick Brisbane Fund, 1963
Accession Number:
Not on view
This small whiteglazed bowl is in the shape of a bird with a human face. Its body is decorated with delicate reliefs: a frieze of animals running along the rim, and a medallion on each side containing a human figure. The face with its almond-shaped eyes is clearly of the Seljuk type. Its application to what appears to be the body of a bird recalls the mythological figure of the harpy, which can frequently be found in Islamic art and probably goes back to Central Asian sources.
[ Nasli M. Heeramaneck (Indian), New York, until 1963; sold to MMA]
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Fifty Years of Collecting Islamic Art," September 23, 2013–January 26, 2014, no catalogue.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Transformed: Medieval Syrian and Iranian Art in the Early 20th cent.," February 10, 2016–July 17, 2016, no catalogue.

Grube, Ernst J. "The Art of Islamic Pottery." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 23, no. 6 (February 1965). pp. 217, 219, ill., figs. 14-15 (b/w); illustrate exterior of bowl and end with human head; comparative works mentioned.

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