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HOME : Islamic Art : AS Collection 4 : Engraved Bronze Incense Burner
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Engraved Bronze Incense Burner - LO.878
Origin: Central Asia
Circa: 11th th Century AD to 12th th Century AD
Dimensions: 4" (10.2cm) high
Collection: Islamic Art
Medium: Bronze

Additional Information: AS
Location: Great Britain
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The bowl with a round flaring body and a flaring foot. The outside decorated on the rim by a row of dotted circles, below the rim a band of cursive script. Around the body a large register of roundels separated by ribbon motifs. The medallions featuring an intricate foliage pattern interspersed with openwork dots. The ribbed lower part of the body left bare.

The presence of dotted circles on the rim would seem to indicate Eastern Iran and Afghanistan as centres of manufacture for this low stem bowl. The openwork design furthermore could suggest its use as incense burner.

Metalwork in the Near East and Central Asia has always enjoyed a prestige beyond that of other applied arts such as ceramics and textiles. Major pieces were specially commissioned and often bear dedications to the princes and great nobles for whom they were made, together with the proudly inscribed names of their makers and decorators; their very durability and impressive appearance give them a high standing and dignity of their own. The best pieces were in bronze, either engraved, inlaid, overlaid or beaten in repousse', that is hammered out from behind of designs to appear in relief on the surface.

The roots of Islamic metalwork are to be found in Byzantium and Persia. In the early 7th century the Arabs took over these two great empires and absorbed local metal techniques and typologies, and contributed to a new development in metalwork by adding inscriptions in kufic script.

Not much is known of the art of metalwork in Persia and Central Asia in the early Islamic period, with the exception of few large dishes datable to the Ghaznavids, until the Seljuq period, when new forms started to appear, while lavish inlays and incrustation of gold, silver and copper crept onto the surface.

This cast quarternary bronze (high tin copper alloy) stem bowl in its simple yet refined decorative composure would seem to indicate a 12th century dating, possibly suggesting Transoxiana, rather than Iran, as its place of manufacture. LO.878. Brazier, cast bronze with engraved and openwork decoration. Widely opening globular body, resting on a low foot-ring, sloping and raised shoulder, wide round opening with a flat rim. The wider part of the body has extensive openwork formed by series of connected roundels which are presenting finely executed scrollwork. The areas between these roundels on top and below likewise have openwork The shoulder carries an epigraphic band written in Kufic style. The rim has series of punched-dotted circles. Central Asia, probably Uzbekistan, 12th – 13th century. Ht. Top diam. Base diam. Comparative material: This type of vessel, which is sometimes identified as a lamp, was also produced in pottery, of which both unglazed and glazed types are known. Cf. Johannes Kalter and Margareta Pavoloi, “Ceramics from the Ninth to the Twelfth Century, in Uzbekistan, London, 1997, pp.140-55. For pottery example also in Géza Fehérvári, Ceramics of the Islamic World in the Tareq Rajab Museum, London, 2000, no.179, p.148 for a green glazed example. Prof. Geza Fehervari Prof. Goedfrey King - (LO.878)


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