Imagining Islamic Aesthetics #26 – Islamic Ironwork

For this edition of Imagining Islamic Aesthetics I would like to bring forward the topic of Islamic Ironwork. I have to note that this topic focuses on the subject of iron wares, not armoury or weaponry, which will be covered in another edition. Also, I have touched this topic before, however I would like to concentrate on non-weaponry items here.

Iron and other metals have been one of the preferred material/medium for Islamic artisans to express their creativity. They create daily items such as incense burners, ewers, plates and cutlery,  and decorate them in typical Islamic style such as geometric art or vegetal motifs. Gold and other luxury metals are not usually used for making daily items because of Muhammad, the founder of Islam, frowned upon the usage of excessive luxuries. Hence, during the Abbasid Caliphate, the Muslims discovered metallic lusterware, to imitate the colours of golds and silvers.

Incense burner. Description shows the name of an anonymous monarchy. Probably made in Syria or Egypt.

Ewer inscribed in the name of ‘Othman ibn Sulayman and dated 586 AH. Copper alloy with engraved decoration inlaid with silver and red copper, Iran, 1190.

Bronze lamp, 12th century, Khurasan.

Vase with foot ending in lion’s paws. Hammered copper alloy with engraved, repoussé and silver inlaid decoration, Syria or Egypt, 13th century.

Inkwell (?) bearing the name of Emir Abd Allah ibn Hasan Parsi in flowered Kufic script. Cast copper alloy, originally inlaid (?), 11th century, Nishapur


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