Name of Object:



London, England, United Kingdom

Holding Museum:

Victoria and Albert Museum

About Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Date of Object:

Between hegira 872–901 / AD 1468–96

Museum Inventory Number:


Material(s) / Technique(s):

Inlaid brass.


Height 15.4 cm, diameter 40.6 cm

Period / Dynasty:



Probably Cairo.


A deep-sided brass bowl engraved and inlaid with silver; the bottom has been hammered (repoussé) into a radiating palmette design. The major element of the bowl's decoration are the large cartouches which carry majestic calligraphic inscriptions reading, 'Glory to our lord, the Sultan, the just ruler, the holy warrior, the guardian of the frontiers, the aided [by God], the victorious, sultan of Islam and the Muslims, al-Malik al-Ashraf Abu'l-Nasr Qaytbay'. Smaller roundels between these cartouches also praise Qaytbay and add the phrase 'may his victory be glorious', implying that he is still alive. It seems likely that this exquisite bowl was made as a basin for hand-washing for the personal use of Sultan Qaytbay. The style and quality of the decoration are characteristic of the revival of the arts under the relatively peaceful and prosperous reign of Qaytbay.

View Short Description

A deep-sided brass bowl, hammered and engraved with decoration including the name and titles of Sultan Qaytbay. Since the inscriptions imply that he is still alive, the bowl may well have been made for his personal use as a hand-washing basin.

Original Owner:

Sultan Qaytbay

How date and origin were established:

The inscription names Sultan Qaytbay and implies that he is still ruling ('may his victory be glorious'). Thus the bowl is dated to his reign between 872–901 / 1468–96.

How Object was obtained:

Purchased by the Museum in 1856.

How provenance was established:

Cairo was the Mamluk capital and thus the likeliest place that an object of such quality would have been made.

Selected bibliography:

Stanley, T., with Rosser-Owen, M. and Vernoit, S., Palace and Mosque: Islamic Art from the Middle East, London, 2004, p.56, p.98, p.134 and plate 112.

Citation of this web page:

Barry Wood "Bowl" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2021.;ISL;uk;Mus02;13;en

Prepared by: Barry WoodBarry Wood

Barry Wood is Curator (Islamic Gallery Project) in the Asian Department of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. He studied history of art at Johns Hopkins University and history of Islamic art and architecture at Harvard University, from where he obtained his Ph.D. in 2002. He has taught at Harvard, Eastern Mediterranean University, the School of Oriental and African Studies, and the Courtauld Institute of Art. He has also worked at the Harvard University Art Museums and the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. He has published on topics ranging from Persian manuscripts to the history of exhibitions.

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: UK2 13


Related monuments

 Artistic Introduction

 Timeline for this item

Islamic Dynasties / Period


On display in

MWNF Galleries

Calligraphy Metalwork

See also


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