Bowl with Cheetah


On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 300

Her dowry included
Twelve well-proven hunting leopards,
Twelve snowy hawks from Abasgia [in present-day Georgia],
Twelve falconers, and the same number of falcons
— From Digenis Akritis, an epic poem about a Byzantine-Arab border lord, oral poetry written down about 1000 or later

Predatory cats and birds may have been intended to evoke the hunt, a popular pastime for members of the imperial court and ruling classes and regarded as good practice for military action. Treatises and copies of ancient texts on hunting dating to the eleventh and twelfth centuries suggest a renewed interest in the sport. The emperor John II Komnenos perished in a hunting accident in 1143.

Bowl with Cheetah, Engraved slipware, Byzantine

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