Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow Museums
Hegira 9th–10th century / AD 15th–16th century
Engraved brass with silver inlay.
Diameter 15 cm
A lidded bowl made of cast brass, turned and engraved with interlaced arabesque decoration. It has a rounded bottom and a flat, tight-fitting lid. Though much of the silver inlay has fallen off, there are still some traces of it on the base and sides of the bowl. The inside of the lid has an engraved decorative roundel in its centre. As the lid fits tightly, it is believed that the container was intended to hold incense or spices.
Although this box was made in Mamluk Syria, it was intended for the European market, specifically Venice. In the 19th century, scholars thought that this type of metalwork was made by Muslim craftsmen living in Venice, and therefore called it: 'Veneto-Saracenic', but research has since shown that such items were actually made in Mamluk Syria and Egypt specifically for export to the Venetian market.
This round-bottomed brass bowl is covered with an interlaced arabesque decoration, which was inlaid with silver. It was most probably used as an incense or spice container, and made by Mamluk craftsmen in Syria or Egypt for the Venetian market.
Artistic analysis and comparison with other examples of metalwork made for the European market during the 9th–10th / 15th–16th centuries.
Purchased as part of a larger collection of items in 1883.
Ward, R., Islamic Metalwork, London, 1993.
Noorah Al-Gailani "Lidded bowl" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2019. http://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;uk;Mus04;26;en
Prepared by: Noorah Al-GailaniNoorah Al-Gailani
Noorah Al-Gailani is Curator for Islamic Civilisations at Glasgow Museums, Scotland. With a BA in Interior Design from the College of Fine Arts, Baghdad University and three years' experience in design and folk art preservation, she moved to the UK in 1992. On completing her MA in Museum Studies at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London in 1994, she worked as Project Officer at the Grange Museum of Community History documenting the presence of Muslim communities in the London Borough of Brent. In 1995 she was Assistant Curator, Ancient Monuments Laboratory, English Heritage, and in 1996 became Curator for John Wesley's House and the Museum of Methodism in London. She co-authored The Islamic Year: Surahs, Stories and Celebrations (Stroud: Hawthorn Press, 2002) for non-Muslim children. Since 2003 she has been based at The Burrell Collection in Glasgow, working across the city's museums to interpret Islamic art and culture, ancient and modern, through research, exhibitions and educational activities.
Copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: UK4 30