Name of Object:

Pot from Zamora

Location:

Madrid, Spain

Holding Museum:

National Archaeological Museum

About National Archaeological Museum, Madrid

Date of Object:

Hegira 353 / AD 964

Museum Inventory Number:

52113

Material(s) / Technique(s):

Ivory; deep silver engraving, mould cast, nielloed.

Dimensions:

Height 18 cm, diameter 10.3 cm

Period / Dynasty

Umayyads of al-Andalus, Caliphate period

Provenance:

Córdoba, Spain.

Description:

Cylindrical container with a very flat conical covering, crowned by a scalloped button. The two elements are joined together by a silver hinge, worked with an engraver's chisel and glazed in black. The piece is carved from a cylinder of elephant tusk.
The surfaces of the pot and its lid are decorated predominantly with various arabesques (linked stems, flowers, pineapples and six-petal roses) in high relief, with fluted stems and bevelled leaves. This decoration includes realistic fauna of various types, with animals such as peacocks, gazelles and birds facing one another or back to back in pairs. It represents a first in Córdoban art which would later become commonplace. An inscription in elegant kufic characters around the lower border of the lid indicates whom it was for and the date it was made: 'God's blessing for Iman ‘Abdallah al-Hakim al Mustansir billah, Prince of believers. This is what he ordered to be made for the mother of ‘Abd al-Rahman in the care of Durri el Chico. In the year three and fifty and three hundred'. The pot was commissioned by al-Hakam II for his concubine, Zoa, mother of Prince ‘Abd al-Rahman, who never came to power because he died when he was a child. The name Durri refers to the donor, a slave of the Caliph, governor of Baeza at the start of Hisham II's reign who was killed at the order of al-Mansur.
The raw material of the piece, elephant ivory, is imported, which testifies to the commercial relations during the period of the Umayyad Caliphate of Córdoba.
The pot is named after its origin, Zamora Cathedral, where it was used as a reliquary.

View Short Description

Exquisitely carved from an elephant tusk imported from Africa, this pot, as stated in the inscription, is a gift from the caliph al-Hakam II to his favourite, Subh (‘Aurora’), the mother of his heir. It was made under the supervision of the servant Durri al-Sagir in the palace workshops of Madinat al-Zahra.

How date and origin were established:

The kufic inscription on the lower part of the lid shows the date 353 / 964.

How Object was obtained:

The pot was discovered in Zamora Cathedral during the preliminary work for the Catálogo Monumental de la Provincia de Zamora by the wife of Manuel Gómez Moreno, who acquired it for the State. It went to the National Archaeological Museum on 14 March 1911.

How provenance was established:

Commissioned by the Caliph al-Hakam (r. 350–66 / 961–76), it is linked to the palatine ivory workshops of Madinat al-Zahra.

Selected bibliography:

Ferrandis, J., Marfiles árabes de Occidente, Vol. I, Madrid, 1935, pp.56–8.
Franco Mata, A., “Bote de Zamora”, Remembranza. Las Edades del Hombre, Zamora, 2001, p.65, no. 6.
Gómez Moreno, M., Cátálogo Monumental de la Provincia de Zamora, Madrid, 1927, pp.77–9, no. 164.
Martín Benito, J. I. and Regueras Grande, F., “El Bote de Zamora: Historia y Patrimonio”, De Arte, 2, León, 2003, pp.203–23.
Montaya Tejada, B. and Montoya Díaz, B., Marfiles Cordobeses, Córdoba, 1979, pp.24–6.

Citation of this web page:

Ángela Franco "Pot from Zamora" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2017. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;es;Mus01;14;en

Prepared by: Ángela FrancoÁngela Franco

Ángela Franco es Jefa del Departamento de Antigüedades Medievales en el Museo Arqueológico Nacional.
Obtuvo el Grado de Doctor por la Universidad Complutense de Madrid con la tesis Escultura gótica en León y provincia, premiada y publicada parcialmente (Madrid, 1976; reed. León, 1998); y la Diplomatura en Paleografía y Archivística por la Scuola Vaticana di Paleografia, Diplomatica e Archivistica, con la tesis L'Archivio paleografico italiano: indici dei manoscritti, publicada en castellano (Madrid, 1985). Becas de investigación: beca posdoctoral del Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores, Academia Española de Bellas Artes de Roma (1974-75); beca posdoctoral del Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia, Academia Española de Bellas Artes de Roma (1975-77); beca de la Fundación Juan March de Madrid (1978).
Tiene en su haber 202 publicaciones, fundamentalmente sobre arte medieval cristiano, en especial la iconografía: Crucifijo gótico doloroso, Doble Credo, Danzas de la Muerte, temática bíblica en relación con la liturgia (el Génesis y el Éxodo en relación con la vigilia Pascual) o con el teatro (Secundum legem debet mori, sobre el “pozo de Moisés” de la cartuja de Dijon). Es autora de cuatro catálogos monográficos del Museo Arqueológico Nacional, entre ellos el de Dedales islámicos (Madrid, 1993), y de publicaciones sobre escultura gótica y pintura en la catedral de León y sobre escultura gótica en Ávila, así como de numerosas fichas para catálogos de exposiciones.
Ha participado en innumerables congresos nacionales e internacionales, presentando ponencias y mesas redondas, y ha dirigido cursos y ciclos de conferencias. Es Secretaria de Publicaciones en el Museo Arqueológico Nacional desde 1989.

Copyedited by: Rosalía AllerRosalía Aller

Rosalía Aller Maisonnave, licenciada en Letras (Universidad Católica del Uruguay), y en Filología Hispánica y magíster en Gestión Cultural de Música, Teatro y Danza (Universidad Complutense de Madrid), ha obtenido becas de la Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional y la Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia de Madrid, así como el Diplôme de Langue Française (Alliance Française), el Certificate of Proficiency in English (University of Cambridge) y el Certificado Superior en inglés y francés (Escuela Oficial de Idiomas de Madrid). Profesora de Estética de la Poesía y Teoría Literaria en la Universidad Católica del Uruguay, actualmente es docente de Lengua Castellana y Literatura en institutos de Enseñanza Secundaria y formación del profesorado en Madrid. Desde 1983, ha realizado traducción y edición de textos en Automated Training Systems, Applied Learning International, Videobanco Formación y El Derecho Editores. Integra el equipo de Museo Sin Fronteras desde 1999 y ha colaborado en la revisión de los catálogos de “El Arte Islámico en el Mediterráneo”. Así mismo, ha realizado publicaciones sobre temas literarios y didácticos, ha dictado conferencias y ha participado en recitales poéticos.

Translation by: Laurence Nunny
Translation copyedited by: Monica Allen

MWNF Working Number: SP 25

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