Name of Object:
Incense-burner or hand-warmer
Museum of Islamic Art at the Pergamon Museum
Date of Object:
Hegira third quarter of 7th century / AD third quarter of 13th century
Museum Inventory Number:
Material(s) / Technique(s):
Bronze, gold and silver inlay.
Diameter 15 cm
Period / Dynasty:
Syria, possibly Damascus.
This incense-burner is decorated with courtly scenes across its pierced surface, such as were found in Mosul as early as 1220. The object’s upper part features six figures cast as medallions: a lord on a throne holding a glass of wine, a riding falconer, a lion hunter and three cross-legged musicians holding a tambourine, a flute and a lute. The slightly flattened hemisphere features a sun with concentric rays. Corresponding themes decorate the lower part. Two rows of animals run round the circumference. While the gold forms the undecorated filling of free spaces, the silver inlay is the medium in which the very detailed representations of clothes, hairstyles, animal bodies and floral elements are depicted. The medallions are set in a background composed of symmetrical arabesques.
View Short Description
Precious-metal spherical incense-burners were fashionable luxury objects in eastern Mediterranean courts around 1290. They were made of two halves so that they could be opened to put aromatic substances on a charcoal fire in an inner cup to produce perfumed smoke.
How date and origin were established:
Similar incense-burners were made in Syria in the 7th / 13th century during the Ayyubid and Mamluk periods. This incense-burner bears a very close resemblance to these.
How Object was obtained:
Long-term loan from the Museum of Indian Art, Berlin.
How provenance was established:
It is very likely that Syria is the country of origin, due to its similarity to incense-burners made in Syria.
Barrett, D., Islamic Metalwork in the British Museum, London, 1949, no. 22, XV.
Citation of this web page:
Annette Hagedorn "Incense-burner or hand-warmer" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2020. http://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;de;Mus01;25;en
Prepared by: Annette Hagedorn