Smithsonian Freer Gallery Sackler Gallery National Museum of Asian Art Gallery Guide Arts of the Islamic World
IntroductioncalligraphyAbstract DesignArts of the BookThe Art of the Objectpage 1

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The large canteen, the only known example of its kind from the Islamic world, recalls the shape of ceramic pilgrim flasks. Its inlaid silver decoration combines different styles of calligraphy and decorative motifs, such as intricate geometric designs, and lively animal scrolls, with Christian imagery. These include a representation of the Virgin and Child in the center, surrounded by narrative scenes from the life of Christ as well as saints and knights. It has been suggested that the canteen may have been commissioned by a wealthy Christian, as a special memento of his travels to the East. Alternatively, it may have also been made for a Muslim patron, who was familiar and interested in Christian imagery.

Syria, mid-13th century
Brass, silver inlay
44.7 x 36.5 cm
Purchase F1941.10

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