Bowl. Lady on an elephant. Mounted attendants. Polychrome overglaze. Minai type. Earthenware

Bowl Depicting a Lady Riding an Elephant, c. 1180-1220

Unknown artist, expand_more
Not on Viewexpand_more

Mina’i wares delight due to their lively depictions of human life, with figures galloping on horses and, seen here, atop a wide-eyed elephant. This may come as a surprise for those who assume Islamic art lacks representational imagery. This is indeed the case for much religious art, as the Qur’an forbids idolatry. But different dynasties took different approaches, especially in the secular arts such as illustrated manuscripts and luxury objects like ceramics. It’s possible that the woman depicted here is the traveling bride of Bahram Gur, one of the legendary kings in the epic Shahnameh, presented in illustrated texts on the opposite side of this gallery. The loose script on the bowl’s inner and outer rim most likely invoked wishes of good health and prosperity under the auspices of God, underscoring the overriding spirit of Islamic courtly culture.

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Details
Title
Bowl Depicting a Lady Riding an Elephant
Role
Artist
Accession Number
50.46.434
Curator Approved

This record has been reviewed by our curatorial staff but may be incomplete. These records are frequently revised and enhanced. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email collectionsdata@artsmia.org.

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Bowl. Lady on an elephant. Mounted attendants. Polychrome overglaze. Minai type. Earthenware