A rare marble basin Jazira or Syria, 11th/ 12th Century
Lot 22W
A rare carved marble Water Basin Syria or Jazira, 11th/ 12th Century
£100,000 - 150,000
US$ 160,000 - 240,000

Lot Details
A rare marble basin Jazira or Syria, 11th/ 12th Century A rare marble basin Jazira or Syria, 11th/ 12th Century A rare marble basin Jazira or Syria, 11th/ 12th Century
A rare carved marble Water Basin
Syria or Jazira, 11th/ 12th Century
on a short circular, double-banded foot, the basin of rounded form with four everted projections and flat rim, the exterior profusely carved in high relief with split palmettes and trailing foliate vines, the body with a band of kufic inscription within a lobed arch, further kufic inscriptions around the rim, intact
62 x 62 x 46 cm. max.

Footnotes

  • Provenance: George Moro, Montreal, who acquired the basin in the mid 1980s.

    Inscriptions: around the body, the basmala; around the rim, "May it be wholesome" and "May recovery be tender".

    Based on the inscription in floriated kufic script, it is probable that this basin would have originally been in a maristan or foundation hospital, where it would have occupied a prominent position placed on a pedestal and filled with water. Undrilled, it is likely to have been used for drinking water rather than ablutions.

    The form of this basin can be paralleled with a Byzantine basin with three corner projections and a spout found in an excavation at Pyla in Cyprus in 2006. In the tradition of reusing spolia, it is possible that the present lot was once a plain Byzantine basin or capital that was adapted in the Islamic period. The steep, slightly rounded sides relate to a pair of stone capitals attributed to 8th/ 9th Century Raqqa, sold at Sotheby's (Sotheby's, Arts of the Islamic World, 6th October 2010, lot 135; and also shares certain features with a basin sold through these rooms in April 2012 (Bonhams, Islamic and Indian Art, 24th April 2012, lot 54), which had four corner projections; and the treatment of the foot is echoed on the 13th Century Ayyubid marble basin from Hama in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (inv. 335-1903).

    The decorative scheme on the present lot is larger in scale than on the Bonhams 2012 basin, but both pieces depict a similar scrolling vine motif that is also found on the domed terminals of two marble corner posts from a tomb in the David Collection, Copenhagen (Kjeld von Folsach, Art from the World of Islam in The David Collection, Copenhagen, 2001, p. 245, no. 392). The David Collection posts have similar kufic inscriptions with scrolling palmette vine in the background and also on the outer borders, which von Folsach suggests are from 11th/ 12th Century Syria.

    This style of decoration is reminiscent of the late Samarra bevelled style found in Syria and Mesopotamia, an earlier incarnation of which can be seen clearly on the Sotheby's 2010 stone capitals . Comparison can also be drawn with the upper band of inscription and interlacing decoration on a marble mihrab panel attributed to the Zangid dynasty in the early 13th Century that was sold at Sotheby's (Sotheby's, Arts of the Islamic World, 6th October 2010, lot 136).

    For further reference, please see Ernst Herzfeld, "Damascus: Studies in Architecture, II. The Cruciform Plan. Syrian Architecture, Period of Nūr ad-Dīn", Ars Islamica, X, Freer Gallery of Art, The Smithsonian Institution and Department of the History of Art, University of Michigan, 1943; and Materiaux Pour Un Corpus Inscriptionum Arabicarum, Part II, Cairo, 1954.
Auction information

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Contacts
  1. Oliver White
    Specialist - Islamic and Indian Art
    Bonhams
    Work
    101 New Bond Street
    London, United Kingdom W1S 1SR
    Work +44 20 7468 8303
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