SOLD: Rare Large Bronze Persian Ewer c1100 AD inlaid copper Kufic
This very highly desirable and rare Islamic artefact dating from the peak of Islamic metalwork from around 900 years ago.
It was made in Khorasan which was a large province located in the Eastern Persian empire (modern day Afghanistan, around the Herat province).
The Eastern Persian Empire was decimated by the Mongols who then went on to destroyed the centre of the Islamic Empire at that time: Baghdad.
Khorasan had all the ingredients required to become the centre of the Islamic metal work industry for two centuries – an abundance of mineral ores and metal (gold, silver, iron, copper, zinc, lead, antimony) and rivers to cool the metal during the manufacturing process.
There is an excellent section/article about this type of ewer in “Islamic Art in the Metropolitan Museum of Art” (1972) pages 187-198. This type of ewer is recognisable and distinct due to the high spout which is represents a bird’s beak. The article in the book discusses nine of these ewers and illustrates the one in the Metropolitan Museum and one in the Damascus Museum.
It is interesting to note that only some of these ewers actually are decorated with birds or have bird finials to complement the shape of the spout/beak.
This type of early ewer only comes onto the market infrequently and when it is offered for sale, sells for in excess of £20,000 (we have seen examples sell for over £100,000 – please contact us for details).
This is a very rare, elegant and beautiful piece of Islamic history in the form of a ewer (jug) that would have originally been made for someone of high rank, a noble family or wealthy merchant.
It has a globular or squat round shape to the main body (sometimes referred to a melon shape), a slender neck and a high spout, with a handle that is attached to the neck and body. The top of the handle as a wonderful bird finial which deserves close observation as it is delightfully detailed.
Starting at the bottom, there is a solid, circular footed base.
The main body is decorated with a band of inscription in kufic style (see section below about the inscription) which is interrupted by three roundels containing exquisite bird designs.
What is remarkable is that on close examination, the Kufic inscriptions have been inlaid into the surface of the bronze. This is a rare form of decoration and would have taken a lot of skill and time to complete.
The birds are depicted with one bird facing left, the other facing right and the roundel in the middle has TWO birds facing outwards in the direction of the other two – very clever and a treat to look at.
Each of these birds has one foot raised upwards to pose in a stylistic way of walking.
There are two more roundels containing birds just above the band of calligraphy (making a total of five bird roundels).
At the base of the neck there is another band of kufic calligraphy that goes all the way around the base of the neck (see inscriptions section below).
Moving up the neck, there is a typically Khorasan style design that goes around the neck. Towards the top of the neck, on either side, there are two loops that still retain their rings, which is quite rare.
The elongated spout is decorated with two bands: one motif similar to the one at the base of the neck; the other motif/design goes around the underside of the spout and terminates in a scroll at either side of the spout.
Both these motifs or designs are typical of the period 1000AD-1250AD.
On the underside of the high spout there is a small zoomorphic boss which might have held a chain that was attached to a small lid that would have covered the top section of the spout just above the pierced grill.
The pierced grill is a sign of quality and craftmanship as it is very beautifully designed.
These ewers were designed to hold water and to keep the water cool. In arid and remote places in the Eastern Persian Empire during the 10th-12th centuries, wells were not always easily accessible. This ewer would have been kept in the private quarters of someone wealthy and of high rank. Not everyone could afford items made of bronze in that ancient time.
As with most Khorasan bronze artefacts, the calligraphic inscriptions were intended to bring blessings to the owner. The artisan producing such luxurious items would obviously wish to have the customer return time and again to purchase more items. It also has to be said that not all artisans were able to produce such beautiful works of art so only the best artisans made items for the wealthiest customers/clients.
Such items often had inscriptions of benedictory phrases such as “Blessings & serenity to the owner”. We have been unable to decipher the inscriptions on this ewer but it would be along the lines of similar artefacts that tend to have very similar benedictory inscriptions such as the inkwell that we have listed :
“Glory, prosperity, wealth & perpetual happiness…[to the owner]”
“Glory, prosperity, perpetual happiness and longevity to the owner”.
“Glory, peace and perpetual…quietitude…[to the owner]”
“Glory, prosperity, wealth, happiness, peace…joy & blessings to the owner”
H: 29cm x Diameter: 16cm
This work of art is in excellent condition with no holes, major dents, repair or any other damage. There is an excellent patina (surface wear that results in a greenish-brown colour / texture and pattern) but this is expected for an item that is around 900 years old.
Prices are negotiable within reason so please contact us if you wish to discuss an item that is of interest.
If you purchase more than one item, we will offer a discount and combine shipping.
Shipping will be at cost and the buyer is responsible for any import/export fees or taxes.
We only ship using tracked services that require a signature on delivery.
Viewing is strictly by appointment and a minimum of 48 hours notice is required as no items are stored on site.
All of our Islamic Art is guaranteed to be genuine and as described.
We also further guarantee that our artefacts are legitimately sourced.