Inkwell
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
1958.134
People
Unknown Artist
Title
Inkwell
Classification
Artists' Tools
Work Type
inkwell
Date
late 12th century-early 13th century
Places
Creation Place: Middle East, Iran, Khorasan province
Period
Seljuk-Atabeg period
Culture
Persian
Physical Descriptions
Medium
leaded brass, incised and inlaid with silver and copper
Technique
Cast
Dimensions
10 x 8 cm (3 15/16 x 3 1/8 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription: Inscribed in Arabic, in thuluth script, with wishes for power and good fortune
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Alpheus Hyatt Purchasing Fund
Accession Year
1958
Object Number
1958.134
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
Descriptions
Description
The inscriptions on these inkwells are the ones encountered most often during the Seljuk era, with wishes for glory, prosperity, wealth, happiness, etc. The small handles on the lids and bodies may have been used to secure the lids when the inkwells were not in use. These two examples have very similar decoration except that one has rosettes and knotted split palmettes in the middle register of the body, whereas the other has figures sitting cross-legged holding branches or columns. The inkwell without figural decoration may have been used by a scribe who copied the Quran or other religious texts, while the other inkwell would probably have been used by a secular official. Notes from the Glory and Prosperity exhibition, Feb - June 2002.
Publication History

Rahim Habibeh, Inscription As Art In the World of Islam - Unity In Diversity, exh. cat., Hofstra University (Hempstead, NY, 1996), page 35/figure 2

Melanie Michailidis, Glory and Prosperity: Metalwork of the Islamic World, brochure, ed. Marsha Pomerantz, Harvard University Art Museums (2002), p. 4, fig. 6

Exhibition History

Geometry of the Spirit: Islamic Illumination and Calligraphy, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 04/30/1988 - 06/26/1988

Calligraphy and the Arts of the Book, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/25/1993 - 01/30/1994

Beyond the Surface: Scientific Approaches to Islamic Metalwork, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 10/21/2011 - 06/01/2013

Verification Level

2 - Adequate. Object is adequately described but information may not be vetted