London, England, United Kingdom
Victoria and Albert Museum
About hegira 676 / AD 1277–8
Height 50 cm, diameter 97 cm
A large marble fountain-basin. The basin is basically a large hemisphere supported on a short foot and topped with a 12-sided rim, one side of which is blank and another of which has a section cut out to support the channel which brought water. Eleven of the sides carry an inscription giving the name and titles of the Ayyubid governor of Hama, al-Malik al-Mansur Muhammad ibn al-Muzaffar Mahmud ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Umar ibn Shahanshah ibn ‘Ayyub (also known by his shorter title of Mansur II Muhammad), who ruled from AH 641–83 / AD 1244–84. The exterior of the basin is carved with a bold design of two interlacing arabesque designs, each repeated six times in alternation and set off against a background of smaller floral decoration. Such a fine basin would probably have been placed in a prominent public mosque to serve the needs of congregants and to proclaim the glory of the ruler.View Short Description
A large marble basin for ablutions, carved on the exterior with prominent interlacing arabesque designs. The 12-sided rim is inscribed with the name and titles of the patron, the governor of Hama. Thus the basin served both the ritual needs of the community and the governor’s public image.
The inscription gives the date 676 / 1277–8.
Purchased by the Museum in 1903.
The basin is inscribed with the name and titles of the Ayyubid governor in whose honour this object was made (see description above).
Ayers, J., Oriental Art in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1983, p.111.
Barry Wood "Basin" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2017. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;uk;Mus02;9;en
Prepared by: Barry WoodBarry Wood
Barry Wood is Curator (Islamic Gallery Project) in the Asian Department of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. He studied history of art at Johns Hopkins University and history of Islamic art and architecture at Harvard University, from where he obtained his Ph.D. in 2002. He has taught at Harvard, Eastern Mediterranean University, the School of Oriental and African Studies, and the Courtauld Institute of Art. He has also worked at the Harvard University Art Museums and the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. He has published on topics ranging from Persian manuscripts to the history of exhibitions.
Copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: UK2 09
Islamic Dynasties / Period
On display in
Discover Islamic Art Exhibition(s)Water | Water Usage: Drinking and Washing Echoes of Paradise: the Garden and Flora in Islamic Art | Flora and Arabesques: Visions of Eternity and Divine Unity
DownloadAs PDF (including images) As Word (text only)