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Jug (Mashraba) with Human-Headed Inscription and Zodiac Signs

Arts of the Islamic World

The Arabic inscription around the neck of this jug is written in a naskh script that terminates in human heads and reads, “Glory, success, dominion, safety, happiness, care, and long life to the owner.” The inscription on the foot reads, “Glory, success, dominion, happiness, safety, intercession, and long life to the owner.”
MEDIUM Copper alloy, engraved, inlaid and overlaid with silver
  • Place Made: Khurasan, Iran
  • DATES late 12th-early 13th century
    DIMENSIONS height: 5 1/2 in. (14 cm) diameter: 5 1/4 in. (13.3 cm)  (show scale)
    INSCRIPTIONS The top panel encircling the neck of the jug consists of a band of inscription in Arabic in human-headed naskhi script that reads: "Glory, success, dominion, safety, happiness, care, and long life to the owner." The register on the foot of the jug consists of another band of human-headed Arabic naskhi that reads: "Glory, success, happiness, safety, intercession, and long life to the owner." The tips of the vertical letters end in human heads, whereas the descending letters end in legs and feet.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    ACCESSION NUMBER 86.227.123
    CREDIT LINE Gift of the Ernest Erickson Foundation, Inc.
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION Jug (Mashraba) with Human-Headed Inscription and Zodiac Signs, late 12th-early 13th century. Copper alloy, engraved, inlaid and overlaid with silver, height: 5 1/2 in. (14 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Ernest Erickson Foundation, Inc., 86.227.123. Creative Commons-BY
    IMAGE overall, 86.227.123_view2_acetate_bw.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
    "CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Inlaid with silver, chased and engraved; decorated with inscriptions in animated naskh script, figural, geometric, and zodiac designs. Brass, inlaid with silver, chased and engraved. It has a high, wide neck, bulbous body, flaring foot, and although the handle is missing, this jug is the finest metal object in the Erickson Collection. It has six horizontal bands of various widths with epigraphic, figural, and geometric embellishment. There is an Arabic inscription in human headed "naskhi" (cursive) script, around the neck, which reads: "Glory, success, dominion, safety, happiness, care, and long life to the owner". On the foot there is another human-headed "naskhi" inscription with two variations on the first (the order of the words for safety and happiness is reversed and the word "intercession" replaces "care". The tops of the human heads are flat and their hair is depicted by a horizontal line across the figures' brows. On the shoulder of the jug run two bands consisting of cheetahs, dogs (?) and rabbits chasing one another. The narrow band between the lower animal frieze and the foot consists of a geometric interlace, punctuated by roundels containing harpies, common on 12th and 13th century Iranian metalwork. The main decorative band in the middle has the twelve signs of the zodiac in roundels with geometric interlace.
    RECORD COMPLETENESS Best (89%)
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