Lot n° 13
12000 - 15000
Boîte en bronze incrusté d'argent
Eastern Anatolia, Siirt or Mosul, 13th century
Cylindrical in shape, consisting of a base and lid, with a double-bar hinge holding the lid open. Locks with a single-bar hinge on the opposite side. Three-lobed handle attached to lid. White bronze, high tin content, decorated on the outside with floral motifs and twisted ribbons, engraved and inlaid with silver. Arabic inscription engraved on the underside of the base, a possible reading of the latter: 'bi-rasmi (al-rabb) al-ma'muratu, makhzan shahi li'l-muẓaffar', (By order - of the lord - of al-Ma'mura, princely reserve of al-Muẓaffar). The exterior has been cleaned, while the interior retains traces of natural corrosion.
H. 14 cm; D: 12 cm
Private collection in Paris since the early 1980s.
The shape of this box is comparable to two others, one made in Mosul for the Zangid Atabeg Badr al-Din Lu'lu (r. 1233-1259), preserved in the British Museum (1878, 1230.674), the other for the Ayyubid ruler, al-Malik al-'Adil II (r. 1238-1240), in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum (8508/1, 2-1863). During al-Adil's reign, a richly inlaid basin bears figures in roundels similar in form to those on this box. It was made by the craftsman Mawsili Ahmad ibn 'Umar (Musée du Louvre, inv. OA 5991). This basin also bears the same type of inscription on the base that attributes it to the tishtkhana (checkroom) of al-'Adil. Another box from the Keir Collection, on loan to the Dallas Museum of Art (K.1.2014.456.A-B), is identical in shape, with a similar double-bar hinge and a cloverleaf handle. The alternating trefoil ornamental pattern encircling the base is nearly identical to that of two registers on a basin in the Victoria and Albert Museum (acc. num. 740-1898), attributed to Cairo or Damascus of the Mamluk period (1250-1350). The lid of the present box is engraved with eight-petaled flowers, each petal surrounded by four nodes. This style of flower is found on the basin made for al-Malik al-'Adil, as well as on a series of candlesticks and various vessels, all attributed to Anatolia, Konya or the city of Siirt (see for example: James Allan, "From Tabriz to Siirt - A relocation of a 13th century metalworking school," Iran XVI, 1978, 182-183 and Assadullah Souren Melikian-Chirvani, Islamic Metalwork from the Iranian World, 8th-18th Centuries, London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1982, pp. 356-368). The eight-petaled flower is the main motif of some of these works, for example the candlesticks in the British Museum (inv. 1955,0214.2) and in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (inv. EA2009.17). All these works are made of the same material and with the same technique as our box. The possible interpretation of the inscription: "al-Ma'mura" may indicate the steppe southeast of Aleppo, or any richly populated area. "al-Rabb" may mean the "lord" (of the region) or a designation of a non-Muslim. "li-al-Muzaffar" may indicate a royal title of the owner. Several rulers in Syria, Anatolia, and Yemen bore this title in the late 12th and 13th centuries, including Saladin's nephew al-Muẓaffar Taqi al-Din 'Umar (r. 1179-1191), who ruled over Hama, and al-Malik al-Muẓaffar Shihab al-Din Ghazi who ruled over Mayyafariqin (r. 1220-1244). The eight-petal flower decoration, connects our box to Siirt, and its shape to Mosul, it is possible to attribute it to al-Malik al-Muẓaffar Shihab al-Din Ghazi, due to the geographical proximity of Siirt, Mosul and Mayyafariqin.
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