Mortar

Unidentified Seljuq maker (Herāt, Afghanistan)

Share

late 12th century or early 13th century

Bronze with copper inlay

Overall: 5 3/16 × 6 1/8 in. (13.2 × 15.6 cm)

Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth: Gift of Mark Lansburgh, Class of 1949

M.985.32.1

Geography

Place Made: Herāt, Afghanistan, Central Asia, Asia

Period

1000-1400

Object Name

Personal Gear: Ceremonial

Research Area

Asia

On view

Label

Mortars were common objects in many cultures across the world. Used in combination with a pestle to grind materials, mortars might be found in a household for cooking, a pharmacy for preparing medicines, or an artist’s workshop for creating pigments. This mortar was likely intended for a wealthy patron because of its elaborate decoration, which includes raised almond-shaped bosses and bands and triangles of inlaid geometric ornament. A copper inscription in Kufic, a type of Arabic script, rings the top of the mortar. While the verse is a blessing for glory and prosperity, this does not mean that the mortar was only used for sacred purposes.

Like the cheshme tile panel installed to the right, this mortar demonstrates how stylized texts were part of the visual vocabulary of the Islamic world. However, this comparison also reveals the variety within Islamic art, which encompasses different time periods, geographical contexts, and cultural practices yet is often treated as monolithic.

From the 2024 exhibition Ancient Narratives: A New Look at Old Art, curated by Ashley B. Offill, Curator of Collections

Course History

SART 17.08, Digital Drawing, Karol Kawiaka, Fall 2020

COCO 26.01, What's in Your Toolbox?, Heidi Denzel and Mokhtar Bouba, Fall 2022

COCO 26.01, What's in Your Toolbox?, Heidi Denzel and Mokhtar Bouba, Fall 2022

Anthropology 3.01, Introduction to Anthropology, Charis Ford Morrison Boke, Summer 2023

Exhibition History

Ancient and Premodern Global Cultures, Gene Y. Kim Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, January 26, 2019.

Global Cultures at the Hood: Ancient to Premodern, Gene Y. Kim Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, January 26. 2019.

The Beauty of the Bronze: Selections from the Hood Museum of Art, Gene Y. Kim Class of 1985 Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, October 13, 2012-March 18, 2014.

Provenance

Collected by Mark Lansburgh (1925-2013), Santa Fe, New Mexico, date unknown; given to present collection, 1985.

This record is part of an active database that includes information from historic documentation that may not have been recently reviewed. Information may be inaccurate or incomplete. We also acknowledge some language and imagery may be offensive, violent, or discriminatory. These records reflect the institution’s history or the views of artists or scholars, past and present. Our collections research is ongoing.

We welcome questions, feedback, and suggestions for improvement. Please contact us at: Hood.Collections@dartmouth.edu

Subjects