A large 12thC bronze Zhizri
Lot 101W
A monumental bronze Royal Tent Support Persia or Central Asia, late 12th Century
Sold for £180,000 (US$ 303,115) inc. premium
Auction Details
A monumental bronze Royal Tent Support Persia or Central Asia, late 12th Century A large 12thC bronze Zhizri A large 12thC bronze Zhizri A large 12thC bronze Zhizri A large 12thC bronze Zhizri
Lot Details
A monumental bronze Royal Tent Support
Persia or Central Asia, late 12th Century
of cylindrical form, open at either end, cast in a single piece with four concentric rings to base, rim and central section, engraved to upper and lower sections with bold repeating inscriptions in thuluth alternating with roundels, the central section with elegant frieze of running lions alternating with roundels on a scrolling ground
54cm. x 38cm. diam.; weight 82kg.


  • Provenance: Found near Balasagun, Kyrgystan. Private UK Collection since 1950.

    The inscription is a repetition of: wa al-'izz al-da 'im wa al,
    'And perpetual Glory and'

    This extraordinary monumental bronze is testimony to the skill of medieval Islamic metalwork and is an important addition to the group of known engraved Khorasan bronzes. The function of this piece has been identified by Anatoly Ivanov of the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg and can be seen in miniature paintings of the Timurid, Safavid and Ottoman periods. Bridging two adjoining wooden poles to support imperial tents made of heavy materials, they can be seen in numerous paintings of outdoor royal scenes in illustrated manuscripts of the Shahnameh and Sa'di's Bustan amongst others. Bronze supports are clearly shown for example in a scene from the Khamsa of Nizami produced for the great Safavid ruler Shah Tahmasp depicting the Nomad Encampment of Layla's Tribe (illustrated in Eleanor Sims, Peerless Images, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, no. 172, p. 257).

    The extraordinarily elegant engraved frieze of running felines alternating with roundels can be related to fine examples of Iranian metalwork of the 12th Century, specifically to a Khorasan bucket of cast brass in the British Museum (OA 1953.2-17.I) and a Nishapur ewer of cast brass in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (38.40.240).

    Formerly thought to be monumental candle-stands, ten of these supports are currently shared between the State Hermitage Museum St.Petersburg, the State Museum of Oriental Arts Moscow, the Historical Museum in the Republic of Kyrgyzstan and the Institute of Archaeology of the Kazakh Republic. Their Central Asian origin points to the possibility they were used by a powerful nomadic tribe. During the 12th Century, Balasagun was the former capital city of the Karakhanids, a powerful semi-nomadic group whose sophisticated artistic production was influenced by its neighbours the Seljuks and Ghaznavids.

    For further reading see (in Russian) A.Ivanov, 'On the so-called Nestorian Candlestands', Byzantium in the Context of World Culture to Commemorate the Centenary of Alisa Vladimirovna Bank 1906-1984 , State Hermitage Publishing, St. Petersburg, 2008 pp. 381-385, examples illustrated on p. 382 (I.R.2347 and I.R.2348).

    For Ottoman examples in the Topkapi Saray Museum, Istanbul see Nurhan Atasoy, Otag-1 Humayun. The Ottoman Imperial Tent Complex, Istanbul, 2000, nos. 81, 83, 84.

    Further manuscript illustrations of tent supports are shown in a double page frontispiece of Firdausi's Shahnameh, dated 1444 in the Cleveland Museum of Art (56.10); in a double-page frontispiece in a manuscript of Sa'di's Bustan, Herat, 1488 Cairo National Library (Adab Farsi 908) fols 1v-2r; Timur holds a great feast from a manuscript of Sharaf al-Din 'Ali Yazdi's Zafarnama, Shiraz, 1552, London, The British Library (OR 1359, fol 35V); Nushaba shows Iskander His Portrait from the Khamsa of Nizami, Tabriz, 1539-40, London, British Library (OR.2265), fol. 48v.

    We would like to thank to A. Arendt for assistance with the Russian-English translation for the cataloguing of this lot.
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