Khorassan Decorated Bronze Mortar and Pestle



    gift of: Professor Gary Hanson

    date: 11th Century AD

    provenance: Khorassan

    description: Metal, often bronze, was frequently used in the manufacture of objects of daily life in the Islamic world, such as this mortar and pestle, found in the area historically designated Khorassan in Iran. Many of examples of these objects have been found in what is now east or north east Iran. Though this was a common household object, it was intricately and beautifully decorated. The simplicity of the pestle is made up for by the extravagant designs on the mortar, which consist of an exceptionally beautiful combination of figural and non-figural motifs. The top registers contain kufic script over a vegetal pattern, while bottom registers contain different animals (rabbits, deer, and large cats). The protruding top and bottom rims are decorated with geometric designs. Along with calligraphy, vegetal and geometric patterns constitute the three non-figural decorative patterns in Islamic Art. The use of geometric design is a common feature in artefacts produced after the 9th century and has been related to the flourishing
    of mathematics under the Abbasid caliphs who ruled from the 9th to 11th.