Name of Object:
Wash basin and jug
Museum of Islamic Art at the Pergamon Museum
Date of Object:
Hegira second half of 7th century / AD second half of 13th century
Artist(s) / Craftsperson(s):
‘Ali ibn ‘Abdallah al-‘Alawi, al-naqqash al-Mawsili (the engraver of Mosul).
Museum Inventory Number:
Jug: I. 6580; basin I. 6581
Material(s) / Technique(s):
Brass, gold and silver inlay.
Jug: height 37 cm, diameter 20.6 cm; basin: height 17 cm, diameter 43 cm
Period / Dynasty:
Mosul, northern Iraq.
The jug and basin were used at court on dining tables for the washing of hands. Medieval Arabic sources include descriptions of this sort of utensil. The daughters of amirs, viziers, high-ranking noblemen, officials and merchants all had this hand-washing equipment as part of their trousseau. Judging by the iconographic motifs of its decoration, the Berlin jug and basin look as if they were made for a lawyer. The inscriptions include blessings of a general nature (well-being, wealth, health, knowledge and leniency) for the unknown owner. Its original magnificence is clearly visible, as it has been excellently preserved.
View Short Description
The extremely fine design and workmanship of this basin and jug demonstrate the skill of the metal craftsmen working in Mosul around 1270. Commissioned by someone of high rank and depicting the planets and scenes of courtly life, the set may have been used for washing hands on special occasions.
How date and origin were established:
The artist, ‘Ali ibn ‘Abdallah al-‘Alawi, who signed both the jug and the basin, lived during the mid-7th / mid-13th century.
How Object was obtained:
From a private art gallery in 1938.
How provenance was established:
The artist, who signed both the jug and the basin, includes in the inscription of his name an indication of his town of origin: al-Mawsili, ‘from Mosul’, signifying where he was born or where he worked. The signature and the motif of the figure with a crescent in front of its body suggest that it is very probable that this piece originates from Mosul.
Baer, E., Ayyubid Metalwork with Christian Images, Leiden, 1989, pp.15-17, plates 50–1.
Citation of this web page:
Annette Hagedorn "Wash basin and jug" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2020. http://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;de;Mus01;24;en
Prepared by: Annette Hagedorn