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Bowl Decorated with Birds Enclosing the Inscription "Blessing"

Samanid dynasty, ca. 900-1000

Objects with zoomorphic inscriptions combining animal images and letters are rare, only a dozen pieces of this quality being known today. This cup, in the form of a flattened cone, is decorated with two monumental birds in which image and text are melded. Their bodies enclose a protective formula in kufic that can be read as baraka (blessing). Their long split tails elegantly follow the curve of the cup while the streaked plumage accentuates the graphic character of the composition. Associated with good fortune and glory in the sacred texts of pre-Islamic Iran, birds retained these symbolic connotations in the Islamic world, closely connected with flight as a metaphor of the soul’s divine journey to God.

Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi/ Photo: Thierry Ollivier

Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi/ Photo: Thierry Ollivier

Title: Bowl Decorated with Birds Enclosing the Inscription “Blessing"
Geography: Central Asia
Date: Samanid dynasty, ca. 900-1000
Medium: ceramic with underglaze decoration
Classification: container, vase, tableware
Dimensions: D. 25 cm
Inventory number: LAD 2015.010
Contact for images: [email protected]
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