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HOME : Islamic Art : C Collection : Kashkul (Begging Bowl for a Dervish)
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Kashkul (Begging Bowl for a Dervish) - JB.1084
Origin: Central Asia
Circa: 18 th Century AD to 19 th Century AD
Dimensions: 10.4" (26.4cm) high x 5.3" (13.5cm) wide
Collection: Islamic Art
Medium: Coco-de-Mer

Additional Information: C

Location: Great Britain
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The kashkul or beggar’s bowl was a sign of the religious poverty assumed by Islamic mystics. They often bear inscriptions, including verses from the Qur’an as well as poetry in Persian praising the ‘kashkul’ in mystical terms. Traditionally they were used to deliver food to the poor.

The bowl is carved from half the shell of a nut, the fruit of the coco de mer palm which grows in the Seychelle Islands in the Indian Ocean. The shell floats when hollow and was often washed up on the shores of southern Iran. This extraordinary sea journey soon became a metaphor in Iran for the dervish’s spiritual journey.

The kashkul can be suspended from its triple metal chain, which is further adorned with six bead- like ornaments. The surface of the nut shell has been treated to lend it a dark black sheen. The underside is unadorned except for a tear-shaped cartouche with inscription. A further band of calligraphy is enclosed between floral and foliate borders around the upper edge. A small ‘spout’, presumably for pouring liquid, is set behind one of the metal fittings. The area around the opening has been expertly carved to resemble a doorway, with a pointed arch and columns. The section below features two animals surrounded by foliage. 203. JB.1084: DERVISH BEGGING BOWL (KASHKUL), Coco-de-Mer, Iran, 19th Century AD, H. 13.5cm x W. 26.4cm REF: The Agha Khan Trust for Culture, Spirit of Life, p. 67, cat. 40. Prof. Geza Fehervari Prof. Geoffrey King - (JB.1084)


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