Name of Object:

A pilgrim’s flask


Amman, Jordan

Holding Museum:

Jordan Archaeological Museum

About Jordan Archaeological Museum, Amman

Date of Object:

Hegira 8th century / AD 14th century

Museum Inventory Number:

J. 98

Material(s) / Technique(s):

Wheel-thrown ceramic.


Height 17.5 cm, width 15.5 cm

Period / Dynasty:



Unknown, probably Syria.


A ceramic pilgrim's flask, sometimes called a Zamzameyyah, due to the fact that pilgrims used to fill such flasks with holy water from the famous well in Mecca called Zamzam.

This type of ware is usually tan or creamy buff in color. These flasks are made of two separate moulded discs which are joined together; the neck and handles are then added. There is a guilloche decoration at the juncture to hide the join. The moulds of the discs have hollow decorations to form a pattern in relief on the surface of the flasks. Often the decoration includes an emblem or rank to indicate the status or profession of the owner, normally an official associated with the Ayyubid or Mamluk court. On this particular flask we have a lily in the middle with a sword on either side, an emblem belonging to several sultans and amirs of the time.

View Short Description

A ceramic pilgrim’s flask or zamzamiyyah after the holy well of Zamzam in Mecca. Made of two moulded discs which are joined together, the design has a lily in the middle with a sword on either side, an emblem belonging to several sultans and amirs of the time.

How date and origin were established:

The flask was dated by stylistic analysis and by comparing it to similar dated artifacts in other museums, such as other pilgrim's flasks displayed in Damascus National Museum.

How Object was obtained:

Purchased from an antiquities dealer.

How provenance was established:

The provenance of this flask is unknown but it was probably produced in Syria.

Selected bibliography:

ساري. صالح، الفخار الأيوبي و المملوكي في بلاد الشام 567-923 ه/1171 – 1575 م، رسالة ماجستير، الجامعة الأردنية، 1979، 120، شكل 36.

البهنسي.عفيف، (تحقيق) الآثار السورية: مجموعة أبحاث أثرية و تاريخية (ماينز على الراين، 1982)، ص 285، شكل 253.

العش، محمد،" الفخار غير المطلي" الحوليات الأثرية السورية، المجلد العاشر، 1960، ص. 135-184، لوحة 18، رقم 78-84.

Herzfeld, E., "Damascus: Studies in Architecture I," Ars Islamica, IX, 1942, p.11, fig. 6.9

Citation of this web page:

Aida Naghawy "A pilgrim’s flask" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2020.;ISL;jo;Mus01;27;en

Prepared by: Aida NaghawyAida Naghawy

Aida Naghawy is an archaeologist and the Director of Jordan Archaeological Museum. She studied archaeology at the University of Jordan where she gained her MA. She was affiliated to the Jordanian Department of Antiquities from 1974 as a curator of Jordan Archaeological Museum. In 1981 she became inspector of Jerash antiquities and co-ordinator of the Jerash International Rehabilitation project. She was also head of the archaeological awareness section at the Department of Antiquities. Aida is the author of numerous publications on Islamic coins. She has carried out excavation work in Jerash and is the founder of Jerash Archaeological Museum and the Islamic Museum of the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs.

Copyedited by: Mandi GomezMandi Gomez

Amanda Gomez is a freelance copy-editor and proofreader working in London. She studied Art History and Literature at Essex University (1986–89) and received her MA (Area Studies Africa: Art, Literature, African Thought) from SOAS in 1990. She worked as an editorial assistant for the independent publisher Bellew Publishing (1991–94) and studied at Bookhouse and the London College of Printing on day release. She was publications officer at the Museum of London until 2000 and then took a role at Art Books International, where she worked on projects for independent publishers and arts institutions that included MWNF’s English-language editions of the books series Islamic Art in the Mediterranean. She was part of the editorial team for further MWNF iterations: Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean Virtual Museum and the illustrated volume Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean.

True to its ethos of connecting people through the arts, MWNF has provided Amanda with valuable opportunities for discovery and learning, increased her editorial experience, and connected her with publishers and institutions all over the world. More recently, the projects she has worked on include MWNF’s Sharing History Virtual Museum and Exhibition series, Vitra Design Museum’s Victor Papanek and Objects of Desire, and Haus der Kulturen der Welt’s online publication 2 or 3 Tigers and its volume Race, Nation, Class.

MWNF Working Number: JO 53


Related monuments

 Artistic Introduction

 Timeline for this item

Islamic Dynasties / Period


On display in

MWNF Galleries



As PDF (including images) As Word (text only)