Lobed bowl with lion, foliage and a ring of raised dots

Small, low bowl with a short, broad, ring foot. Twelve shallow radial lobes slope up to form the sides of the bowl, with their rounded ends meeting in the central area of the interior surface to form a scalloped-edged medallion. Within the medallion is a depiction of a lion with two leaf forms encircled by a row of small bosses executed in low relief. A simple scratched inscription is found on the outside of the bowl running vertcally down the center of one lobe from the rim. A second inscription mis present inside the foot ring.

Maker(s)
Artist: Sogdians (flourished 4th-8th century CE)
Historical period(s)
late 6th-early 7th century
Medium
Hammered silver with repoussé and chased decoration
Dimensions
H x Diam: 4.8 × 15.3 cm (1 7/8 × 6 in)
Geography
Probably Uzbekistan
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F1997.13
On View Location
Freer Gallery 16: Center of the World: China and the Silk Road
Classification(s)
Metalwork, Vessel
Type

Bowl

Keywords
Central Asia, chasing, hammering, lion, punching, repousse, Sogdia, Uzbekistan, WWII-era provenance
Provenance

From at least 1957
Carl Kempe (1884-1967), Ekolsund, Sweden, from at least 1957 [1]

From 1992
Eskenazi Ltd., London, purchased from the Kempe family [2]

To 1997
James Freeman, Kyoto, purchased from Eskenazi Ltd., London

From 1997
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from James Freeman in 1997

Notes:

[1] See B. Gyllensvard, T'ang Gold and Silver, Bulletin of the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities 29, 2 (Stockholm: 1957), p. 63, fig. 70.

[2] Information provided by Philip Constantinidi, Eskenazi Ltd. in email correspondence, March 21, 2013.

Previous Owner(s)

James Freeman
Kempe Family
Carl Kempe 1884-1967

Description

Small, low bowl with a short, broad, ring foot. Twelve shallow radial lobes slope up to form the sides of the bowl, with their rounded ends meeting in the central area of the interior surface to form a scalloped-edged medallion. Within the medallion is a depiction of a lion with two leaf forms encircled by a row of small bosses executed in low relief. A simple scratched inscription is found on the outside of the bowl running vertcally down the center of one lobe from the rim. A second inscription mis present inside the foot ring.

Inscription(s)

On one exterior lobe is a simple scratched inscription, which has been described in publications as probably Turkic. Within the foot ring, on the exterior base, may be a second inscription. Neither appears to be legible.

Label

Made in Central Asia in the region of Samarkand, this decorated silver bowl is an excellent example of the school of metalwork fashioned in this cosmopolitan area on the Silk Route linking Europe and China.  In the seventh and eighth century, this region—known as Sogdia—produced luxury metalwork that drew on artistic styles of Sasanian Iran, to the west, and Tang China, to the east.

Published References
  • , The State Hermitage Museum, Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, Bard Graduate Center. The Sogdians: Infuencers on the Silk Roads. https://sogdians.si.edu/the-sogdians-at-home/.
  • Boris I. Marshak. Silberschatze des Orients: Metallkunst des 3-13 Jahrhunderts und ihre Kontinuitat. Leipzig. fig. 69.
  • James C.Y. Watt. China: Dawn of a Golden Age, 200-750 AD. Exh. cat. New York and New Haven. fig. 44.
  • Boris I. Marshak. Sogdiiskoe serebro: Ocherki po vostochnoi torevtike. Kul'tura Narodov Vostoka Moscow. pl. 31.
  • Bo Gyllensvard, The Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities. T'ang Gold and Silver. no. 29 Stockholm. fig. 70.
  • James T. Ulak. A Decade of Remarkable Growth: Acquisitions by the Freer and Sackler Galleries. vol. 166 no. 548 London, 2007. p. 42.
  • Lin Meicun. Guyuan Sute mu suo chu zhonggu Posiwen yinzhang ji qi xiangguan wenti [The seal with an ancient Persian inscription from a Sogdian grave at Guyuan and related questions]. no. 1 Xi'an Shi. cat. 1, pp. 50-54.
  • Boris I. Marshak. A Sogdian Silver Bowl in the Freer Galery of Art. No. 29, 1999. pp. 101-110.
  • Thomas Lawton, Thomas W. Lentz. Beyond the Legacy: Anniversary Acquisitions for the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. vol. 1 Washington, 1998. pp. 128-129.
  • Amy Heller. The Silver Jug of the Lhasa Jokhang: Some Observations on Silver Objects and Costumes from the Tibetan Empire (7th-9th Century). p. 215.
Collection Area(s)
Ancient Near Eastern Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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