Incense burner

Brass incense burner; cylindrical body covered with semi-dome surmounted by rooster finial, rests on four feet; engraved and pierced with arabesques and calligraphy; traces of copper inlay.

The rooster finial does not belong to the piece; however, it is an authentic figurine and probably pre-dates the incense burner. The two loops for suspension on its head and neck also suggest a different function. Cylindrical incense burners with identical semi-domes generally have bird-shaped finials (at times peacocks) and rest on three feet; the Freer example has four legs, which is unusual.

The cylindrical body is divided into four panels, each defined by vertical strips executed in relief and decorated with strapwork. In the center of the panels are medallions; the two in front have floral arabesques while the remaining pair are adorned with geometric motifs. A larger medallion with geometric interlaces evolving from a six-pointed star appears on the base.

Traces of copper inlay are visible around the two quarter panels of the dome, the base of the finial and in the bands encircling the four medallions on the body.

Historical period(s)
Saljuq period, 12th century
Medium
Brass, traces of copper inlay
Dimensions
H x W: 22.8 x 9.8 cm (9 x 3 7/8 in)
Geography
Iran
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F1977.5
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Metalwork, Vessel
Type

Incense burner

Keywords
casting, chasing, incense, Iran, Saljuq period (1037 - 1300), WWII-era provenance
Provenance
Provenance research underway.
Description

Brass incense burner; cylindrical body covered with semi-dome surmounted by rooster finial, rests on four feet; engraved and pierced with arabesques and calligraphy; traces of copper inlay.

The rooster finial does not belong to the piece; however, it is an authentic figurine and probably pre-dates the incense burner. The two loops for suspension on its head and neck also suggest a different function. Cylindrical incense burners with identical semi-domes generally have bird-shaped finials (at times peacocks) and rest on three feet; the Freer example has four legs, which is unusual.

The cylindrical body is divided into four panels, each defined by vertical strips executed in relief and decorated with strapwork. In the center of the panels are medallions; the two in front have floral arabesques while the remaining pair are adorned with geometric motifs. A larger medallion with geometric interlaces evolving from a six-pointed star appears on the base.

Traces of copper inlay are visible around the two quarter panels of the dome, the base of the finial and in the bands encircling the four medallions on the body.

Inscription(s)

1. (Esin Atil, 1977) The kufic inscription around the circular openings reads:

al-yumn v'al-bakarat v'al-surur v'al saadet v'al-salamat.

"Prosperity (good luck) and blessing and joy (pleasure) and happiness and safety (security)."

2. (Wheeler Thackston, Harvard University, Summer 1990) Inscription:

al-yumn wa'l-baraka wa'l-surur wa'l-sa`ada wa'l-salama.

"Felicity and blessing and happiness and health."

Published References
  • Dr. Esin Atil, W. Thomas Chase, Paul Jett. Islamic Metalwork in the Freer Gallery of Art. Washington, 1985. cat. 12, pp. 92-94.
  • Julia Murray. A Decade of Discovery: Selected Acquisitions 1970-1980. Exh. cat. Washington, 1979. cat. 90, p. 116.
Collection Area(s)
Arts of the Islamic World
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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