Name of Object:

Incense burner


Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom

Holding Museum:

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow Museums

About Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow Museums, Glasgow

Date of Object:

Hegira 13th century / AD 19th century

Museum Inventory Number:


Material(s) / Technique(s):

Earthenware, with perforated decoration.


Height (with lid) 23 cm, width (including handles) 20 cm

Period / Dynasty:





An unusual incense burner made of earthenware. It has been thrown on a wheel and is perforated with leaf-shaped cut-outs in order to aid air circulation and maximum dissemination of the incense. The main body is divided in half by a perforated strainer-type horizontal partition where the burning incense would be placed. The vessel has a high lid that is also perforated, as is the lower part of the body, further increasing air circulation throughout the vessel. There are four handles on the axis of the main body, indicating that this incense burner would have been elevated, either hung from the ceiling or some other high place.

View Short Description

Incense has held a special position in most if not all Islamic cultures, and has been mainly used to perfume interior spaces such as private rooms, mosques, shrines and religious schools. Vessels of all shapes and sizes, like this pottery burner, have been made to hold and burn incense.

How date and origin were established:

Stylistic analysis: the object was collected by the donor from Algeria along with other similar Ottoman ceramics.

How Object was obtained:

Donated to the Museum in 1877.

How provenance was established:

The object was collected by the donor from Algeria along with other similar Ottoman ceramics.

Citation of this web page:

Noorah Al-Gailani "Incense burner" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2020.;ISL;uk;Mus04;45;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 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: UK4 49


 Artistic Introduction

 Timeline for this item

Islamic Dynasties / Period


On display in

MWNF Galleries


See also

Virtual Visit Exhibition Trail

EARLY OTTOMAN ART - Legacy of the Emirates


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