Sasanian Silver


Sasanian Silver Essay, Research Paper

In the broad world of islamic art its not always easy to tell were the piece your looking at comes from, what period it was created in and what materials were used to make it. It can be complicated as islamic art differs from country to country and in some cases from city to city. Every area has its artistic specialty as does every period of time. The three bowls Im going to discuss are all pieces of Islamic art, two of which are made in Iran and on that is made in either Syria or Egypt. I chose these bowls because they all have different styles of decoration, each decoration is unique in its own way, but all decorations are considered features of islamic art.

The first piece that caught my eye was this bowl on display in the Fountain of the Light exhibit. This bowl is from either Egypt or Syria and was made for Mamluk sultan Al-Malik Al Muzaffar, Saif al-Din Hajji who ruled for only one year. Just by looking at the piece you can tell it was made for royalty, and its probably not a bowl you would put fruit in. The bowls body is cast brass, with silver, gold and a black compound used to emphasize its lines. The bowls most noticable feature is one that is common in Islam, calligraphy. The inscription on the bowl was inlayed in silver, it praises the person it was made for and shows that he was looked upon quite highly saying;

“The loft authority, the lordly, the emir (prince), the possessing, the learned, the diligent, the holy warrior, the defender, the protector of the frontiers, the fortified by god, (officer of al Malik) al-Muzaffar.”

The style of arabic calligraphy this was written in appears to be Naskhi. Every letter and pronounciation appears to be present on the bowl which means a good job was gone with the inlay aswell as with perserving the bowl so that the inlaid pieces are not removed and have not fallen off. The calligraphy on the bowl is not continuous however, it is seperated by six round shaped designs, also inlaid in silver. It appears to be a the shape of a flower in the center of the design, each with six pedals that appear to be a gold inlay. It is then bordered by a sliver inlay circle. The circle is then surrounded by what appears to be eight, either birds or ducks, or an arabesque pattern of leaves. The design is then bordered off by a three line segmented circle also inlayed.

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