12th-13th century CE
Materials and technique
Stonepaste body, painted in lustre on an opaque white glaze
Ø 15.2 cm
Mediaeval Kashan lustre ceramics often feature a single monumental animal or figure in reserve on a lustre ground filled with floral vinescrolls. Representations of birds, horses and leopards are more common; the elephant-bird seen here seems to be unique. Perhaps this fantastic creature with the head of an elephant and body of a bird is inspired by the mythological bird (roc) of A Thousand and One Nights. The roc may have been derived from the enormous elephant bird, a now extinct flightless bird of the family Aepyornithidae that was native to Madagascar.
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