Cast, bronze ewer with incised decoration;
flaring sides rise up from splayed foot-ring
broad, flattened shoulder to collared, funnel neck
with flat, everted rim; undulated handle, ribbed
grip, flanked by tangs and surmounted by
pomegranate finial acting as thumb rest; motif of
trefoils and split-palmettes to top and bottom of
neck. Intact with a superb, glossy, light green
An early example of a small group of ewers with
pomegranate finials dating to between 9th-11th
centuries. The Barakat Collection includes five
examples of this ware, which share their very
distinct shape yet differ in size and decoration.
particular piece stands apart on account of its
singular decoration and patina.
The shape of the vessel and pomegranate finial
to Persian metalwork and were appropriated by
Islam after the fall of the Sassanian Empire in AD
651. The pomegranate is a recurrent theme of
interest throughout history and actually
in the ancient civilisations of Mesopotamia,
Phoenicia and Egypt.
The trefoil – three-leaved plant – however was
conceived as a Christian symbol and is likely to
been transmitted to Islam by Late Antique and
Byzantine sources in the west. Perhaps a
patron commissioned this ewer.
For centuries, the Silk Road had brought Muslim
lands into contact with the peoples of Europe,
and China. In art, we see influence across a vast
and the existing metalwork tradition enriched by
new forms and techniques.
Metal objects were the most important items of
equipment among the middle classes in Muslim
society and any discerning household would have
had a retinue of everyday metalwork objects.
Precious metals were costly and in all
demanded great knowledge and skill to work.
A charming piece with an unusual aesthetic that
enunciates the spread of new influences
the empire and the adaptation of existing
to keep up with demand for luxury objects.
Would most likely have been used to store and
wine and other drinks.
A similar example dated 11th-12th century from
Iran is currently on display in Gallery 451 at the
Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Cf. Islamic Art/The David Collection, Folsach
(Copenhagen 1990), P.186, no.302; Bonhams,
Islamic and Indian Art, 9th October 2009, lot 105
and 7th October 2010, lot 91.