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View of a circular bowl, decorated in a brown paint over a cream background. The base is small and raised. The inside of the bowl shows an elephant-headed bird surrounded by clouds, with bands of white and brown around the rim. The exterior is decorated simply with verses of poetry.
AKM556, Bowl with a fantastical elephant-headed creature, Front

© The Aga Khan Museum

View of the inside of a circular bowl, decorated in a brown paint over a cream background. The bowl is painted with an elephant-headed bird surrounded by clouds, with bands of white and brown around the rim.
AKM556, Bowl with a fantastical elephant-headed creature, Top

© The Aga Khan Museum

Side view of a circular bowl decorated in a brown paint over a cream background. The base is small and raised. The rim of the bowl is decorated in bands of white and brown. The exterior is decorated simply with verses of poetry.
AKM556, Bowl with a fantastical elephant-headed creature, Side

© The Aga Khan Museum

Bottom view of a circular bowl, showing the unpainted base, which is smaller than the rim’s diameter, with a raised edge. The sides are decorated in brown paint with poetry verses, over a cream background.
AKM556, Bowl with a fantastical elephant-headed creature, Bottom

© The Aga Khan Museum

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On Display
Bowl with a fantastical elephant-headed creature
  • Accession Number:AKM556
  • Place:Iran
  • Dimensions:15.2 cm
  • Date:early 13th century
  • Materials and Technique:fritware, lustre-painted
  • Sphinxes, harpies, and simurghs are among the fantastical beasts that appear on a special group of sparkling, lustre-glazed ceramics from Iran made between the 12th and 13th centuries. With their large central motifs, they evoke the lustre-glazed bowls made in Egypt during the Fatimid period (909–1171; see AKM684). The elephant-headed bird depicted here is a unique creature not found elsewhere. It must be the product of the potter’s vivid imagination—inspired, perhaps, by the mythical birds described in Persian poetry. On the exterior of the bowl are verses from Persian poetry, scrawled rather carelessly in contrast to the fine drawing of the interior of the bowl.

     

    — Marika Sardar

Note: This online resource is reviewed and updated on an ongoing basis. We are committed to improving this information and will revise and update knowledge about this object as it becomes available.

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