Ghaznavid Bronze Bowl

SKU CK.0156
Circa

963 AD to 1187 AD

Dimensions

8.625″ (21.9cm) high x 8.625″ (21.9cm) wide x 2.5″ (6.4cm) depth

Medium

Bronze

Origin

Central Asia

Gallery Location

USA


 

Metalwork in the Near East and Central Asia has always enjoyed a prestige beyond that of other applied arts such as ceramics and textiles. Major pieces were specially commissioned and often bear dedications to the princes and great nobles for whom they were made, together with the proudly inscribed names of their makers and decorators; their very durability and impressive appearance give them a high standing and dignity of their own. The best pieces were in bronze, either engraved, inlaid, overlaid or beaten in repousse', that is hammered out from behind of designs to appear in relief on the surface. The roots of Islamic metalwork are to be found in Byzantium and Persia. In the early 7th century the Arabs took over these two great empires and absorbed local metal techniques and typologies, and contributed to a new development in metalwork by adding inscriptions in kufic script. Not much is known of the art of metalwork in Persia and Central Asia in the early Islamic period, with the exception of few large dishes datable to the Ghaznavids.

The Ghaznavids started as Turkish slave governors of the Samanids in the Afghanistan area around Ghazna, which became an important cultural centre under their rule. Due to the previous Persian influences, the Turkic Ghaznavids became fully Persianised. Shah Mahmud expanded their empire from India to Iran. The Ghaznavids lost Iran to the Seljuks, and much of Afghanistan to the Gurids who sacked Ghazna in 1151. The capital was moved to Lahore until it was captured by the Ghurids in 1186.

The objects produced under the Ghaznavids often contained a high percentage of tin. Although this type of “high-tin bronze” was difficult to manipulate because of its hardness, it was favored because of its likeness to silver. The exterior of this bowl has been decorated with bands of foliate and fauna motifs. The center is marked by the presence of Al-Buraq, the mythological winged creature that carried Muhammed on his Night Journey.

Ghazna was an important centre of metalwork production and culture. The great poet Ferdawsi dedicated his Shahnameh to Mahmud of Ghazna.

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