Name of Object:
London, United Kingdom
Victoria and Albert Museum
Date of Object:
Hegira 872–901 / AD 1468–96
Artist(s) / Craftsperson(s):
Museum Inventory Number:
Material(s) / Technique(s):
Brass inlaid with silver and possibly copper.
Height 47.6 cm, width 36 cm
Period / Dynasty:
Probably Cairo, Egypt.
A large ewer, made of hammered sheet brass inlaid with silver, with a flaring mouth, rounded body, and spreading foot; a curved handle is joined to the neck and body, and the spout is long and thin with a polygonal end. A bulbous element, which may be a later addition, is attached to the neck. Other than the ring of raised (repoussé) trefoil motifs around the base of the neck, the decoration consists mostly of engraving and inlaid silver. While the handle and spout are adorned with simple arabesques, most of the neck and body of the ewer are given over to remarkable little scenes in which real and fantastic animals – including lions, deer, rabbits, birds, and even elephants – are depicted amidst palm trees and luxuriant plants. A large inscription around the top section of the body says that the ewer was made for the wife of Sultan Qaytbay, whose name, we know, was Fatima. Unlike the rest of the decoration, the inscription is not inlaid with silver; rather, the letters are left plain and polished, and the spaces between the letters are filled with simple, if tightly coiled, arabesques which provide a contrasting background. A second inscription, found on the underside of the foot, records that the ewer was made by someone named Ahmad.
View Short Description
A large brass ewer with decoration in inlaid silver. The decoration includes real and imaginary animals amidst trees and plants. The inscription states that the ewer was made for the wife of Sultan Qaytbay, and the presence of figural decoration suggests that it was for her private use.
Fatima, wife of Sultan Qaytbay
How date and origin were established:
The inscription states that the ewer was made for the wife of Sultan Qaytbay, who ruled from 872–901 / 1468–96.
How Object was obtained:
Purchased by the Museum in 1900.
How provenance was established:
It is probable that a royal commission would have been made in the capital.
Mayer, L., Islamic Metalworkers and Their Works, Geneva, 1959, p.27.
Citation of this web page:
Barry Wood "Ewer" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2019. http://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;uk;Mus02;21;en
Prepared by: Barry Wood