A Khorasan openwork bronze Boss Persia, 11th-12th Century
the flanged rim decorated with an openwork repeating inscription panel, raised central dome 29 cm. diam.
Provenance: Private UK Collection
The inscriptions comprise a repeat of the word Muhammad.
A number of these objects of varying sizes survive, some are inscribed and a few are in pairs. Their function remains uncertain. Melikian-Chirvani has proposed they are bucklers for fencing, padded out and attached to a rod, while Mohammed has suggested they are the remaining central section of cotton or wicker shields, possibly used for close combat training (see Mohamed, The Arts of the Muslim Knights, Milan, 2007, no. 344, 345; and Melikian-Chirvani, Islamic Metalwork from the Iranian World 8-18th Centuries, London, 1982, fig. 42).
Victory in war was inevitably linked to divine will and many arms and weapons bear Qur'anic and talismanic inscriptions. The openwork script on our example is particularly boldly executed and related to strapwork found on pottery of the 10th-11th century.