Bowl With Calligraphic Decoration
Egypt or Syria
Mamluk, 14th century CE
Materials and technique
Brass, inlaid with silver
Ø 18 cm
The inlaid silver inscription on this Mamluk brass bowl reads, “For the High Excellency, the Lordly, the Great Amir, the Learned, the Just, the Valiant, the Supporter, the Succour, the Sparkling, the Help, the Orderly, the Responsible, the [officer] of al-Malik al-Nasir.” This is a typical formulaic inscription, meant to bring glory and prosperity to the owner, and it is seen on a variety of artistic media, from ceramic bowls to enamelled glass mosque lamps, during the Mamluk period (1250-1517 CE). Mamluk society thrived on emblems and symbols. The interior of the brass bowl is decorated with a sun disc and six fish. When the bowl was filled with water, the fish and sun would appear to shimmer. The image of the sun may be seen as symbolising the ruler, as well as wealth and the source of life.
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