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Inkwell, late 12th century-early 13th century
12th-13th century
Seljuk-Atabeg period
Creation Place: Khorasan province, Iran
leaded brass, incised and inlaid with silver and copper
10 x 8 cm (3 15/16 x 3 1/8 in.)
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Alpheus Hyatt Purchasing Fund
, 1958.134
Department of Islamic & Later Indian Art
This record was created from historic documentation and may not have been reviewed by a curator; it may be inaccurate or incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. Please contact the curatorial department listed above for more information.
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.
inscription: Inscribed in Arabic, in thuluth script, with wishes for power and good fortune
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