Incense was widely used in the medieval Islamic world. At receptions and special events, servants would waft the guests with the aromatic smoke emanating from the openwork of the incense burner and sprinkle them with drops of scented water. This bird‑shaped incense burner represents a class of metalwork that would have been sold at market. Birds figure prominently in the decorative repertoire of the Seljuq period, and were probably associated with good fortune.
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