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Doris Behrens-Abouseif, Michael Rogers, Melanie Gibson, Nahla Nassar and others
The collection of Islamic metalwork comprises nearly 1,000 objects from lands as far apart as Sicily and India, dating from the Sasanian period to the 19th century. It is especially noteworthy for the range of objects that are represented. While some are fine examples of well known types, many are unique in form or decoration.
As well as variety, however, the Collection emphasizes similarities: there are several examples of a single form or design - such as the 20 mortars; the impressive group of high tin bronze objects; and the important collection of 11th-13th century inkwells - which enable the tracing of stylistic developments within a given school. Another large and important group of objects comprises ewers, oil lamps and incense burners made in the shape of various birds and animals.
Several items are of historical importance as they are dated and inscribed with the names of artists and patrons. One such example is the only known dated inkwell from thhe Saljuq period. It was made for Hajji Muhammad bin Hasan bin abu Sa'id in AH 607 (AD 1210). The two tray stands made for Amir Khurasan Ikhtiyar al-Din Muhammad bin 'Ali Kharpust are also of great historical significance. Kharpust, a descendant of the great Kings of Ghur and governor of Peshawar, occupied Ghazna in AD 1220 and was assassinated there in the same year. Among the signed pieces are two silver and copper inlaid penboxes by the brilliant craftsman Shadhi al-Naqqash.
The Collection boasts several important precious metal objects - a rare group in Islamic metalwork. Examples are a large silver ewer from the early Islamic period; a repoussé-decorated silver bowl from the 12th century; and a unique silver plate decorated with a granulated gold inscription mentioning the name of Shahriyar ibn Qarin, a ruler in Mazanderan, north-western Iran (reg. AD 1074-1110). Ottoman silver vessels include a late 15th-century silver jug and the only dated Ottoman silver object from the 16th century, a ladle with a niello inscription and the date AH 985 (AD 1577-8).
Notable among 13th-century objects from the Jazira is a silver-inlaid rectangular casket which still retains the four-dial component from a combination lock; the base of a candlestick which was probably made in the workshop of Ahmad al-Dhaki al-Naqqash al-Mawsili; a cast decorative attachment of monumental dimensions, signed by Shakir ibn Ahmad; and, in particular, the only known matching pair of door-handles in the shape of two intertwined dragons. These are the largest and most splendid of an extremely rare type.
Professor Géza Fehérvári was formerly Professor of Islamic Art and Archaeology at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London; he is author of several publications on various aspects of Islamic art and archaeology.
Nahla Nassar is Acting Curator and Registrar of the Khalili Collection, with special interest in metalwork and the arts of the Jazira.
(to be published)
set of 2 parts fully illustrated in colour; numerous line drawings; section on inscriptions with translations
35.5 x 25.5 cm
hardback with dust jacket (slipcased)