Plait Ornament (Jadanagam)

India, probably Chennai (formerly Madras)18th-19th centuryGold; inset with rock crystal, rubies, emeralds and amethysts
Photo by Brass Ivy Design, object and info from the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Plait Ornament (Jadanagam)

India, probably Chennai (formerly Madras)
18th-19th century
Gold; inset with rock crystal, rubies, emeralds and amethysts

Photo by Brass Ivy Design, object and info from the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Fan with Poetic Verses

dated A.H. 1301/A.D. 1883–84
Iran, Tehran
Wood; painted, gilded, and lacquered

This rare lacquer fan consists of twenty wooden blades painted with floral and vegetal scrolls and poetic inscriptions. The design is European whereas the construction is related to nineteenth-century Cantonese fans exported to Europe in quantity. The verses are rhyming couplets by the renowned Persian mystical poet Hafiz. While luxury objects such as this were often exported and thus tailored to the tastes of Europeans, they were also collected by the Iranian elite.

Photo by Brass Ivy Design, object and info from the Metropolitan Museum of Art


The Lovers. Painting by Riza-yi `Abbasi  (ca. 1565–1635)

dated A.H. 1039/ A.D. 1630Iran, IsfahanOpaque watercolor, ink, and gold on paper
The artist Riza-yi ‘Abbasi revolutionized Persian painting and drawing with his inventive use of calligraphic line and unusual palette. He painted The Lovers toward the end of a long, successful career at the Safavid court. The subject of a couple entwined reflects a newly relaxed attitude to sensuality introduced in the reign of Shah Safi (r. 1629–42). Here the figures are inextricably bound together, merged volumes confined within one outline.
Photo by Brass Ivy Design, object and info from the Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Lovers. Painting by Riza-yi `Abbasi (ca. 1565–1635)

dated A.H. 1039/ A.D. 1630
Iran, Isfahan
Opaque watercolor, ink, and gold on paper

The artist Riza-yi ‘Abbasi revolutionized Persian painting and drawing with his inventive use of calligraphic line and unusual palette. He painted The Lovers toward the end of a long, successful career at the Safavid court. The subject of a couple entwined reflects a newly relaxed attitude to sensuality introduced in the reign of Shah Safi (r. 1629–42). Here the figures are inextricably bound together, merged volumes confined within one outline.

Photo by Brass Ivy Design, object and info from the Metropolitan Museum of Art


Mirror with Split-leaf Palmette Design  Inlaid with Gold

Turkey, probably Bursa or IstanbulOttoman periodca. 1299-1923, early 16th centuryIron, inlaid with gold; ivory
Photo by Brass Ivy Design, object and info from the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Mirror with Split-leaf Palmette Design Inlaid with Gold

Turkey, probably Bursa or Istanbul
Ottoman period
ca. 1299-1923, early 16th century
Iron, inlaid with gold; ivory

Photo by Brass Ivy Design, object and info from the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Incense Burner of Amir Saif al-Dunya wa’l-Din ibn Muhammad al-Mawardi

dated A.H. 577/ A.D. 1181–82
Iran
Bronze; cast, engraved, chased, pierced

Zoomorphic incense burners were popular during the Seljuq period. This lion-shaped example is exceptional for its monumental scale, the refinement of its engraved ornament, and the wealth of information provided by the Arabic calligraphic bands inscribed on its body. These include the names of the patron and the artist, as well as the date of manufacture. The head is removable so that coal and incense could be placed inside, and the body and neck are pierced so that the scented smoke could escape. The lion certainly would have been at home in a palatial setting.

Photo by Brass Ivy Design, object and info from the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Ewer with a Feline-shaped Handle

7th century
Iran
Bronze; cast, chased, and inlaid with copper

This ewer demonstrates a continuation of Parthian and Sasanian forms during the early Islamic period in Iran. The lobed forms represent mountains and the vertical lines surmounted by budlike shapes are probably plants. Its overall composition and motifs demonstrate the transition from a figural style to a growing taste for rhythmic repeating patterns. The handle is shaped like an elongated cat peering at the heads of two birds depicted on the rim of the vessel, as though about to pounce.

Photo by Brass Ivy Design, object and info from the Metropolitan Museum of Art


Jeweled and Enameled Ram’s Head Dagger

Date: 18th–19th centuryGeography: India, probably JaipurMedium: Hilt: Gold, enameled and set with precious stones; kundan technique Blade: steel
Photo by Brass Ivy Design, object and info from the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Jeweled and Enameled Ram’s Head Dagger

Date:
18th–19th century
Geography:
India, probably Jaipur
Medium:
Hilt: Gold, enameled and set with precious stones; kundan technique Blade: steel

Photo by Brass Ivy Design, object and info from the Metropolitan Museum of Art


Dagger with Zoomorphic Hilt

second half 16th century India, Deccan, Bijapur or GolcondaHilt: copper; cast, chased, gilded and inlaid with rubies. Blade: steel; forged
Portraits of Sultan Ali Adil Shah of Bijapur (r. 1558– 80) show him wearing daggers with zoomorphic hilts similar to this one. In this superlative, rubystudded hilt, a dragon, whose tail wraps around the grip, attacks a lion, which in turn attacks a deer, symbolism associated with the deity Garuda. Before the deer is a parrotlike bird with a snake in its beak. Lower down on the hilt is the head of a yali, a mythical lionlike animal, with floral scrolls issuing from its mouth.
Photo by Brass Ivy Design, object and info from the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Dagger with Zoomorphic Hilt

second half 16th century
India, Deccan, Bijapur or Golconda
Hilt: copper; cast, chased, gilded and inlaid with rubies. Blade: steel; forged

Portraits of Sultan Ali Adil Shah of Bijapur (r. 1558– 80) show him wearing daggers with zoomorphic hilts similar to this one. In this superlative, rubystudded hilt, a dragon, whose tail wraps around the grip, attacks a lion, which in turn attacks a deer, symbolism associated with the deity Garuda. Before the deer is a parrotlike bird with a snake in its beak. Lower down on the hilt is the head of a yali, a mythical lionlike animal, with floral scrolls issuing from its mouth.

Photo by Brass Ivy Design, object and info from the Metropolitan Museum of Art


Two Stirrups

Mongolian or Tibetan16th-17th centuryIron, gold, and silver
On these stirrups the chiseled iron work and gold and silver damascening are of very high quality. Even more important is the detailed Mongolian inscription on the base of one, giving the name of its maker and of the Mongolian nobleman who commissioned it. Such an inscription appears to be unique not only for a stirrup but also for any example of secular ironwork from Mongolia or Tibet, making these stirrups invaluable as a touchstone against which all other decorative ironwork of this type can be compared.
All info and object from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photo by Brass Ivy Design

Two Stirrups

Mongolian or Tibetan
16th-17th century
Iron, gold, and silver

On these stirrups the chiseled iron work and gold and silver damascening are of very high quality. Even more important is the detailed Mongolian inscription on the base of one, giving the name of its maker and of the Mongolian nobleman who commissioned it. Such an inscription appears to be unique not only for a stirrup but also for any example of secular ironwork from Mongolia or Tibet, making these stirrups invaluable as a touchstone against which all other decorative ironwork of this type can be compared.

All info and object from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photo by Brass Ivy Design


Detail of Double-Barrel Breechloading Pinfire Shotgun

J.C.A. Brun (French, active 1849–1872)Fannière Freres (French)Tissot (French)dated 1866Steel, walnut, and gold
The Second Empire (1852–70) marked the twilight of French gunmaking, which had dominated the design of European firearms since the seventeenth century. Parisian gunmakers consistently employed the finest contemporary designers, silversmiths, sculptors, and engravers to transform sporting arms into works of art.This exquisitely decorated shotgun reflects the period’s predilection for historical revivals, in this case the Louix XV style. Especially noteworthy is the harmonious combination of Rococo ornamental vocabulary and the blue and gold coloring on the barrels, which together evoke eighteenth-century taste. Exhibited by Brun at the Exposition Universelle of 1867, the gun is actually a collaborative work by several of the leading artists and craftsmen of the time: the damascus twist barrels are by Leopold Bernard; the overall design and the intricately chiseled steel mounts are by the silversmiths Auguste and Joseph Fannières; and the delicate engravings on the barrels and mounts, encrusted in two-color gold, are by the engraver Tissot.
All info and object from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photo by Brass Ivy Design.

Detail of Double-Barrel Breechloading Pinfire Shotgun

J.C.A. Brun (French, active 1849–1872)
Fannière Freres (French)
Tissot (French)
dated 1866
Steel, walnut, and gold

The Second Empire (1852–70) marked the twilight of French gunmaking, which had dominated the design of European firearms since the seventeenth century. Parisian gunmakers consistently employed the finest contemporary designers, silversmiths, sculptors, and engravers to transform sporting arms into works of art.
This exquisitely decorated shotgun reflects the period’s predilection for historical revivals, in this case the Louix XV style. Especially noteworthy is the harmonious combination of Rococo ornamental vocabulary and the blue and gold coloring on the barrels, which together evoke eighteenth-century taste. Exhibited by Brun at the Exposition Universelle of 1867, the gun is actually a collaborative work by several of the leading artists and craftsmen of the time: the damascus twist barrels are by Leopold Bernard; the overall design and the intricately chiseled steel mounts are by the silversmiths Auguste and Joseph Fannières; and the delicate engravings on the barrels and mounts, encrusted in two-color gold, are by the engraver Tissot.

All info and object from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photo by Brass Ivy Design.


The Temple of Dendur

Aeolian SandstoneRoman Periodreign of Augustus Caesarabout 15 B.C.Egypt and Sudan, Nubia, Dendur, West bank of the Nile River, 50 miles South of Aswan
Egyptian temples were not simply houses for a cult image but also represented, in their design and decoration, a variety of religious and mythological concepts. One important symbolic aspect was based on the understanding of the temple as an image of the natural world as the Egyptians knew it. Lining the temple base are carvings of papyrus and lotus plants that seem to grow from water, symbolized by figures of the Nile god Hapy. The two columns on the porch rise toward the sky like tall bundles of papyrus stalks with lotus blossoms bound with them. Above the gate and temple entrance are images of the sun disk flanked by the outspread wings of Horus, the sky god. The sky is also represented by the vultures, wings outspread, that appear on the ceiling of the entrance porch.On the outer walls between earth and sky are carved scenes of the king making offerings to deities, who hold scepters and the symbol of life. The figures are carved in sunk relief. In the brilliant Egyptian sunlight, shadows cast along the figures’ edges would have emphasized their outlines. Isis, Osiris, their son Horus, and the other deities are identified by their crowns and the inscriptions beside their figures. These scenes are repeated in two horizontal registers. The king is identified by his regalia and by his names, which appear close to his head in elongated oval shapes called cartouches; many of the cartouches simply read “pharaoh.” This king was actually Caesar Augustus of Rome, who, as ruler of Egypt, had himself depicted in the traditional regalia of the pharaoh. Augustus had many temples erected in Egyptian style, honoring Egyptian deities. This small temple, built about 15 B.C.E., honored the goddess Isis and, beside her, Pedesi and Pihor, deified sons of a local Nubian chieftain.In the first room of the temple, reliefs again show the “pharaoh” praying and offering to the gods, but the relief here is raised from the background so that the figures can be seen easily in the more indirect light. From this room one can look into the temple past the middle room used for offering ceremonies and into the sanctuary of the goddess Isis. The only carvings in these two rooms are around the door frame leading into the sanctuary and on the back wall of the sanctuary, where a relief depicts Pihor worshiping Isis, and below – partly destroyed – Pedesi worshiping Osiris.
All info from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, photo by Brass Ivy Design.

The Temple of Dendur

Aeolian Sandstone
Roman Period
reign of Augustus Caesar
about 15 B.C.
Egypt and Sudan, Nubia, Dendur, West bank of the Nile River, 50 miles South of Aswan

Egyptian temples were not simply houses for a cult image but also represented, in their design and decoration, a variety of religious and mythological concepts. One important symbolic aspect was based on the understanding of the temple as an image of the natural world as the Egyptians knew it. Lining the temple base are carvings of papyrus and lotus plants that seem to grow from water, symbolized by figures of the Nile god Hapy. The two columns on the porch rise toward the sky like tall bundles of papyrus stalks with lotus blossoms bound with them. Above the gate and temple entrance are images of the sun disk flanked by the outspread wings of Horus, the sky god. The sky is also represented by the vultures, wings outspread, that appear on the ceiling of the entrance porch.
On the outer walls between earth and sky are carved scenes of the king making offerings to deities, who hold scepters and the symbol of life. The figures are carved in sunk relief. In the brilliant Egyptian sunlight, shadows cast along the figures’ edges would have emphasized their outlines. Isis, Osiris, their son Horus, and the other deities are identified by their crowns and the inscriptions beside their figures. These scenes are repeated in two horizontal registers. The king is identified by his regalia and by his names, which appear close to his head in elongated oval shapes called cartouches; many of the cartouches simply read “pharaoh.” This king was actually Caesar Augustus of Rome, who, as ruler of Egypt, had himself depicted in the traditional regalia of the pharaoh. Augustus had many temples erected in Egyptian style, honoring Egyptian deities. This small temple, built about 15 B.C.E., honored the goddess Isis and, beside her, Pedesi and Pihor, deified sons of a local Nubian chieftain.
In the first room of the temple, reliefs again show the “pharaoh” praying and offering to the gods, but the relief here is raised from the background so that the figures can be seen easily in the more indirect light. From this room one can look into the temple past the middle room used for offering ceremonies and into the sanctuary of the goddess Isis. The only carvings in these two rooms are around the door frame leading into the sanctuary and on the back wall of the sanctuary, where a relief depicts Pihor worshiping Isis, and below – partly destroyed – Pedesi worshiping Osiris.

All info from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, photo by Brass Ivy Design.


Model Granary from the Tomb of Meketre

Middle KingdomDynasty 12reign of Amenemhat I, earlyca. 1981–1975 B.C.Egypt, Upper Egypt; Thebes, Southern Asasif, Tomb of Meketre (TT 280, MMA 1101), serdab, MMA 1920Wood, plaster, paint, linen, grain
This model of a granary was discovered in a hidden chamber at the side of the passage leading into the rock cut tomb of the royal chief steward Meketre, who began his career under King Nebhepetre Mentuhotep II of Dynasty 11 and continued to serve successive kings into the early years of Dynasty 12.
The four corners of this model granary are peaked in a manner that is sometimes still found in southern Egypt today presumably to offer additional protection against thieves and rodents. The interior is divided into two main sections: the granary proper, where grain was stored, and an accounting area. Keeping track of grain supplies was crucial in an agricultural society, and it is noteworthy that the six men carrying sacks of grain here are outnumbered by nine men taking care of measuring and accounting. Of the four scribes two are using papyrus scrolls, two write on wooden writing boards.
All the accessible rooms in the tomb of Meketre had been robbed and plundered already during Antiquity; but early in 1920 the Museum’s excavator Herbert Winlock wanted to obtain an accurate floor plan of the tomb’s lay out for his map of the Eleventh Dynasty necropolis at Thebes and, therefore, had his workmen clean out the accumulated debris. It was during this cleaning operation that the small hidden chamber was discovered filled with twenty four almost perfectly preserved models. Eventually, half of these went to the Egyptian Museum, Cairo, the other half to the Metropolitan Museum in the partition of finds.
All info from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, photo by Brass Ivy Design.

Model Granary from the Tomb of Meketre

Middle Kingdom
Dynasty 12
reign of Amenemhat I, early
ca. 1981–1975 B.C.
Egypt, Upper Egypt; Thebes, Southern Asasif, Tomb of Meketre (TT 280, MMA 1101), serdab, MMA 1920
Wood, plaster, paint, linen, grain

This model of a granary was discovered in a hidden chamber at the side of the passage leading into the rock cut tomb of the royal chief steward Meketre, who began his career under King Nebhepetre Mentuhotep II of Dynasty 11 and continued to serve successive kings into the early years of Dynasty 12.

The four corners of this model granary are peaked in a manner that is sometimes still found in southern Egypt today presumably to offer additional protection against thieves and rodents. The interior is divided into two main sections: the granary proper, where grain was stored, and an accounting area. Keeping track of grain supplies was crucial in an agricultural society, and it is noteworthy that the six men carrying sacks of grain here are outnumbered by nine men taking care of measuring and accounting. Of the four scribes two are using papyrus scrolls, two write on wooden writing boards.

All the accessible rooms in the tomb of Meketre had been robbed and plundered already during Antiquity; but early in 1920 the Museum’s excavator Herbert Winlock wanted to obtain an accurate floor plan of the tomb’s lay out for his map of the Eleventh Dynasty necropolis at Thebes and, therefore, had his workmen clean out the accumulated debris. It was during this cleaning operation that the small hidden chamber was discovered filled with twenty four almost perfectly preserved models. Eventually, half of these went to the Egyptian Museum, Cairo, the other half to the Metropolitan Museum in the partition of finds.

All info from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, photo by Brass Ivy Design.


Statue of King Mentuhotep II in the  Jubilee Garment

Middle KingdomDynasty 11reign of Mentuhotep IIca. 2051–2000 B.C.Egypt, Upper Egypt; Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Temple of Mentuhotep II, originally from the courtyardSandstone, paint
Twenty  two statues of this type stood beside (but not in the shadow of)  sycomore and tamarix trees that lined the processional path through the  forecourt of the mortuary temple of Mentuhotep II at Deir el-Bahri. The  rough, rectangular base was inserted into the ground. The king wears the  traditional short mantle of the pharaoh’s thirty-year jubilee festival  (Heb Sed). In his fists were the now missing scepter and flail of  Egyptian kings and the god Osiris, probably made of metal. The head on  this piece wears the “red” crown of Lower Egypt. No head with the  “white” crown of Upper Egypt was found; but it is conceivable that the  statues along the south side of the path wore the “white” Upper Egyptian  crown, the ones along the north side the “red” Lower Egyptian one. At  some later time all statues from the forecourt were decapitated and  broken up. Some bodies were buried close to their original places,  others were moved around. Most heads are missing. Both the body and head  of the Museum’s statue were found in the area of the temple of  Hatshepsut that is adjacent to the Mentuhotep temple. It is not certain  that the head really belonged to this particular body.
The  style of the statue is intentionally archaic, presumably because  Mentuhotep II is commemorated as the ruler who reunified the country  after the First Intermediate Period and thus restored Egypt to its  original state first created during the late Predynastic and early  Dynastic Period.
All info from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, photo by Brass Ivy Design

Statue of King Mentuhotep II in the Jubilee Garment

Middle Kingdom
Dynasty 11
reign of Mentuhotep II
ca. 2051–2000 B.C.
Egypt, Upper Egypt; Thebes, Deir el-Bahri, Temple of Mentuhotep II, originally from the courtyard
Sandstone, paint

Twenty two statues of this type stood beside (but not in the shadow of) sycomore and tamarix trees that lined the processional path through the forecourt of the mortuary temple of Mentuhotep II at Deir el-Bahri. The rough, rectangular base was inserted into the ground. The king wears the traditional short mantle of the pharaoh’s thirty-year jubilee festival (Heb Sed). In his fists were the now missing scepter and flail of Egyptian kings and the god Osiris, probably made of metal. The head on this piece wears the “red” crown of Lower Egypt. No head with the “white” crown of Upper Egypt was found; but it is conceivable that the statues along the south side of the path wore the “white” Upper Egyptian crown, the ones along the north side the “red” Lower Egyptian one. At some later time all statues from the forecourt were decapitated and broken up. Some bodies were buried close to their original places, others were moved around. Most heads are missing. Both the body and head of the Museum’s statue were found in the area of the temple of Hatshepsut that is adjacent to the Mentuhotep temple. It is not certain that the head really belonged to this particular body.

The style of the statue is intentionally archaic, presumably because Mentuhotep II is commemorated as the ruler who reunified the country after the First Intermediate Period and thus restored Egypt to its original state first created during the late Predynastic and early Dynastic Period.

All info from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, photo by Brass Ivy Design


Fragment of the Face of a Queen

New Kingdom, Amarna PeriodDynasty 18reign of Akhenatenca. 1353–1336 B.C.Egypt, Middle Egypt, probably el-Amarna (Akhetaten)Yellow jasper
This striking fragment is from a statue composed of different materials. The back of the piece shows remains of the mortise that fitted onto a tenon extending from the statue’s body, which may have been made of Egyptian alabaster to represent a white garment. Two headdresses might have fit this head: the khat-headdress, or the Nubian wig (as seen on the canopic jar lid, 30.8.54, in the same gallery).
The royal woman represented here cannot be securely identified. It is difficult to imagine that the already aged Queen Tiye—the mother of Akhenaten and highly respected as a wise woman at Amarna—was shown as a beauty of such sensuous character. Queens Nefertiti and Kiya, however, are both possible subjects.
All info from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, photo by Brass Ivy Design.

Fragment of the Face of a Queen

New Kingdom, Amarna Period
Dynasty 18
reign of Akhenaten
ca. 1353–1336 B.C.
Egypt, Middle Egypt, probably el-Amarna (Akhetaten)
Yellow jasper

This striking fragment is from a statue composed of different materials. The back of the piece shows remains of the mortise that fitted onto a tenon extending from the statue’s body, which may have been made of Egyptian alabaster to represent a white garment. Two headdresses might have fit this head: the khat-headdress, or the Nubian wig (as seen on the canopic jar lid, 30.8.54, in the same gallery).

The royal woman represented here cannot be securely identified. It is difficult to imagine that the already aged Queen Tiye—the mother of Akhenaten and highly respected as a wise woman at Amarna—was shown as a beauty of such sensuous character. Queens Nefertiti and Kiya, however, are both possible subjects.

All info from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, photo by Brass Ivy Design.


Detail of Statue of Gudea

Neo-Sumerianca. 2090 B.C.Mesopotamia, probably from Girsu (modern Tello)Diorite
The Akkadian Empire collapsed after two centuries of rule, and during the succeeding fifty years, local kings ruled independent city-states in southern Mesopotamia. The city-state of Lagash produced a remarkable number of statues of its kings as well as Sumerian literary hymns and prayers under the rule of Gudea (ca. 2150–2125 B.C.) and his son Ur-Ningirsu (ca. 2125–2100 B.C.). Unlike the art of the Akkadian period, which was characterized by dynamic naturalism, the works produced by this Neo-Sumerian culture are pervaded by a sense of pious reserve and serenity.
This sculpture belongs to a series of diorite statues commissioned by Gudea, who devoted his energies to rebuilding the great temples of Lagash and installing statues of himself in them. Many inscribed with his name and divine dedications survive. Here, Gudea is depicted in the seated pose of a ruler before his subjects, his hands folded in a traditional gesture of greeting and prayer. The Sumerian inscription on his robe lists the various temples that he built or renovated in Lagash and names the statue itself, “Gudea, the man who built the temple; may his life be long.”
All info from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photo by Brass Ivy Design

Detail of Statue of Gudea

Neo-Sumerian
ca. 2090 B.C.
Mesopotamia, probably from Girsu (modern Tello)
Diorite

The Akkadian Empire collapsed after two centuries of rule, and during the succeeding fifty years, local kings ruled independent city-states in southern Mesopotamia. The city-state of Lagash produced a remarkable number of statues of its kings as well as Sumerian literary hymns and prayers under the rule of Gudea (ca. 2150–2125 B.C.) and his son Ur-Ningirsu (ca. 2125–2100 B.C.). Unlike the art of the Akkadian period, which was characterized by dynamic naturalism, the works produced by this Neo-Sumerian culture are pervaded by a sense of pious reserve and serenity.

This sculpture belongs to a series of diorite statues commissioned by Gudea, who devoted his energies to rebuilding the great temples of Lagash and installing statues of himself in them. Many inscribed with his name and divine dedications survive. Here, Gudea is depicted in the seated pose of a ruler before his subjects, his hands folded in a traditional gesture of greeting and prayer. The Sumerian inscription on his robe lists the various temples that he built or renovated in Lagash and names the statue itself, “Gudea, the man who built the temple; may his life be long.”

All info from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photo by Brass Ivy Design