Bird-Shaped Incence Burner, Bronze; cast, pierced, and engraved

Bird-Shaped Incence Burner

Object Name:
Incense burner
12th–13th century
Attributed to Central Asia or Eastern Iran
Bronze; cast, pierced, and engraved
9 13/16 x 3 9/16 x 7 3/8 in. (25 x 9 x 18.8 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Avna Cassinelli Gift, in memory of Patti Cadby Birch, and Friends of Islamic Art Gifts, 2008
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 453
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.
Sheikh Saad Abdallah Al Sabah, England (from at least 1972–2007); [ Sara Kuehn, Brussels, by 2007–8; sold to MMA]
Canby, Sheila R. "The Scented World : Incense Burners and Perfume Containers from Spain to Central Asia." Arts of Asia vol. 42 (2012). p. 123, ill. fig. 9 (color).