Impressive Ottoman Tombak Zamzam Ewer (Zemzemlik)

Of baluster form on a slightly splayed, bevelled foot, with a tall waisted neck and domed stopper with chain attached to body, the serpentine spout also with a small stopper and chain, the handle designed as a stylised split palmette, the body and lid engraved with stylised floral sprays. The zamzam-ewer (zamzamiyyah) in hand is a remarkable and very rare example of tombak workmanship, displaying the introduction of Europeanized local decorative vocabulary to Ottoman metalwork in the 18th century. These were used for storing the holy zamzam water, brought home from Mecca by pilgrims. Similar pieces of Ottoman tombak art have been published in the exhibition catalogues Ab-i Hayat, 2010, p.151 and Sultan III. Selim Han, 2009, p.243. Expertly gilded brass and copper wares are called “tombak”. The earliest examples of Ottoman metalworking are military equipment. Mamluk influence is apparent in 15th-century forms and styles of decoration. The style called “Classical Ottoman” takes shape during the early 16th century. Of special importance during the 16th and 17th centuries are harmoniously-proportioned candlesticks that have austerely-styled forms and are lacking in embellishment but contemporary with them are interesting examples of works whose surfaces are entirely covered with rumi-palmette compositions, braided friezes, delicate saz leaves, and floral motifs. As for the present piece, not infrequently one comes across a tombak ewer that has such a extraordinary design. Military equipment such as helmets, chamfrons, and shields manufactured at the Topkapi Sarayi armory were stamped with a seal resembling the brand of the Kayl clan, of which the Ottomans were originally a member. Pots and pans used in the great kitchens of the Ottoman palace frequently contain inscriptions indicating who they belong to. Objects bequeathed to mosques and tombs also bear mostly tughra-like dedicatory inscriptions. Both in terms of its design and condition, the present piece is an outstanding example of Ottoman tombak art. This magnificent tombak ewer illustrates the taste for the baroque and rococo in Turkey during the second half of the eighteenth century as influenced from European models. Ottoman interest in European art and culture flourished under the reign of Ahmed III (r.1703-30), with his promotion of embassies to Europe for scholarship dedicated to art, and the subsequent use of similar models in Istanbul. A particular testament to such development is visible in the sebil and çeşme of the Nuruosmaniye complex, completed by Osman III in 1755. A very similar tombak ewer is illustrated in: Kayaoglu, I. Gundag, Tombak, Istanbul, 1992, p.26, described as: ‘Mecca-Water Ewer’. Tombak is the name of the application of gold with mercury-alloy on a metal surface, usually on silver, bronze, brass or copper. The application of gold with mercury-alloy on the surface of the work was a highly complicated and difficult process. Tombak arms and armour including shields, helmets, weapons, maces as well as belt buckles, flasks, spear finials, stirrups, bowls, ewers, basins, dishes, forks, knives, spoons, cups, waterpipe bottles, trays, clocks, lanterns were produced.

Provenance: Private American Collection

Impressive Ottoman Tombak Zamzam Ewer (Zemzemlik) magnifing glass

Rare Veneto-Saracenic Bucket

The body is decorated overall with elaborate repeating foliate motifs. The handle is decorated with two dragon's heads. Scholarly debate over the group of metalwork known as “Veneto-Saracenic” wares has seen them be attributed to both Venice and the Middle East. In some, the artist Mahmud al-Kurdi presents a particularly interesting and enigmatic figure in this debate, his signature appearing both in Arabic (or Persian) and transliterated Roman script. Although a small number of signed works are securely attributed to the master himself, there remain many more works which could possibly be ascribed to him. The bucket in hand belongs to a group of rare, Veneto-saracenic metalwork which are very finely executed, manifesting plural influences and speak of the extensive trade network between Renaissance Europe and the Islamic worlds during the 16th century. For further discussion on Veneto-saracenic pieces please see; S. Auld, Renaissance Venice, Islam and Mahmud the Kurd: A metalworking enigma, London, 2004.

Provenance: Private UK collection

Rare Veneto-Saracenic Bucket magnifing glass

Rare Mamluk Tinned-copper Dish Bearing The Blazon Of Sultan Al-Muayyad Shaikh

The central calligraphic blazon engraved with the name and titles of Mamluk Sultan al-Muayyad Shaikh, surrounded by four cartouches with thuluth inscriptions, interrupted by four medallions framed by bands of rumi motifs, zigzags and issuing arabesques, outer large band containing intertwining cartouches containing stylized leaves and rumi. The blazon reads: ‘Izz li Mawlāna al-Sultān al-Malik al-Muayyad Abū al-Nasr Shaikh (Glory be on our Lord the Sultan, the King, al-Muayyad Abu al-Nasr Shaikh). The four times repeated inscription in the cartouches reads: ‘Umila min Tātār al-qalīl (Produced by the humble Tatar) Sultan al-Muayyad (r. 1415-21) commissioned the last great Mamluk mosque complex in Cairo. The historian Maqrizi reports that the sultan built this mosque on the site of a prison where he had been incarcerated, having vowed to do so, should he survive (please see Doris Behrens-Abouseif’s Cairo of the Mamluks, London, 2007, pp. 239 & 241). Very little Mamluk metalwork from the period between circa 1400, and the reign of Sultan Qaytbay (r. 1468-96) is known. The present dish with its three line epigraphic blazon of Sultan al-Muayyad Shaikh, providing dating criteria, appears to be a unique survival. The engraving is particularly fine. For a similar three line epigraphic blazon from the reign of Sultan Qaytbay please see Gaston Wiet, Catalogue General du Musee Arabe du Caire – Objets en Cuivre, IFAO, Cairo, 1932, pl. 33.

Provenance: Private UK Collection

Rare Mamluk Tinned-copper Dish Bearing The Blazon Of Sultan Al-Muayyad Shaikh magnifing glass

SOLD

Ottoman Silver Coffee-pot Stamped With The Tughra Of Sultan Abdulaziz

Of bulbous form, richly decorated with so-called “basket-weaving motifs” worked with the repoussé technique. The foot and the cover are left simple and the handle consists of two intertwined rococo “c” curves. The body has been stamped with the tughra of Sultan Abdulaziz. It is a beautiful example of 19th century Ottoman metalwork which belongs to a small group of eclectic works displaying a graceful unity of Western and local decorative elements.

Provenance: Private Italian Collection

Ottoman Silver Coffee-pot Stamped With The Tughra Of Sultan Abdulaziz magnifing glass

SOLD

Rare Ottoman Lady's Silver Ewer And Basin Stamped With The Tughra Of Sultan Abdulhamid II

Of elegant melon fluted baluster form with high curving tubular spout, s-scroll handle linking neck and belly with cast curved leaf design, upper handle with hinge to domed cover with pointed finial, the basin of wide flaring fluted form, the central aperture closed by a pierced support for the ewer, fully marked with the tughra of Sultan Abdülhamid II. Silver ewer and basins were highly in demand in Ottoman houses where they were part of daily life, used by members of the household and guests to wash hands and ablution. The present ewer and basin is a rare and unusual example of its kind since it is noticeably smaller than standard silver ewer and basins which usually measure 50 cm. plus in height. This is probably because it was produced on special order for the use of a lady or a child.

Provenance: Private French Collection

Rare Ottoman Lady's Silver Ewer And Basin Stamped With The Tughra Of Sultan Abdulhamid II magnifing glass

SOLD

Rare Ottoman Silver Zamzam Bottle (Zemzemlik) Stamped With The Tughra Of Sultan Abdülmecid

Of bulbous form, richly decorated with so-called “basket-weave motifs” in repoussé technique. The body and the lid stamped with the tughra of the Ottoman Sultan Abdülmecid. Water from the spring of Zamzam was brought back from the Hajj (pilgrimage) for relatives and friends. The water is believed to have prophylactic qualities. It was used for other purposes too: Qur’ans were sometimes copied with ink made from it because of its protective powers. The containers used for bringing the water back were called zamzamiyya. Please see exhibition catalogue Hajj – Journey to the Heart of Islam, London, 2012, p. 72. The present bottle is richly decorated: its lid is designed in the form of a rose bud. Zamzambottles of similar form from the Topkapi Palace Museum collections have been published in the exhibition catalogue Surre-i Humayun, 2008, pp. 208, 209. This bottle is exceptional for its rich use of basket-weave motifs.

Provenance: Private Italian Collection

Rare Ottoman Silver Zamzam Bottle (Zemzemlik) Stamped With The Tughra Of Sultan Abdülmecid magnifing glass

SOLD

An Ottoman Silver Mastic-holder Stamped With The Tughra Of Sultan Mahmud II (R. 1808-1839)

The reign of Sultan Mahmud II (r. 1808-1839)
Heigth: 11.8 cm

Of bulbous form, richly decorated with whirling spring flowers worked with the repoussé technique. The foot consists of six curved leaves and the holder on the dome-shaped cover is in the shape of a rose bud. The cover, body and foot all have been stamped with the tughra of Sultan Mahmud II. It is a beautiful example of 19th century Ottoman metalwork which belongs to a small group of eclectic works displaying a graceful unity of Western and local decorative elements.

Provenance: UK Private Collection

An Ottoman Silver Mastic-holder Stamped With The Tughra Of Sultan Mahmud II magnifing glass

SOLD

Impressive Greek Repoussé Silver Bowl

The border inscription in Greek:
Η ΚΟΥΠΑ ΗΝΕ ΤΟΥ ΠΑΝΟΥ ΣΗΑΡΚΑ ΚΕ ΗΝΕ ΔΟΥΛΕΜΕΝΙ ΗΠΟ ΧΗΡΟΣ ΤΟΥ ΔΙΜΟΥ Π(ΑΠΑ)ΚΟΣΤΑ ΑΠΟ ΧΟΡΗΟΝ ΚΑΛΑΡΙΤΕΣ †1744

Translation of the border inscription:
The cup belongs to Panos Siarkas and it is handcrafted by Dimos Papacostas from Kalarrytes village †1744.

The present bowl is a rare example of Greek metalwork, providing the name of the owner, artist and date of production. As stated in the inscription running around the border, it was owned Panos Siarkas, made by Dimos Papacostas from Kalarrytes, in 1744. Kalarrytes is in Epirus, 56 kilometers south east of Ioannina. In the center of the bowl is a roundel with St. George and the dragon. This image has an important place in Orthodox Christian iconography. The narrative episode of Saint George and the dragon took place in "Silene", in Libya. The town had a small lake with a dragon living in it. To appease the dragon, the people of Silene fed it two sheep every day. When they ran out of sheep they started feeding it their children, chosen by lottery. One time the lot fell on the king's daughter. 32 The king told the people they could have all his gold and silver and half of his kingdom if his daughter were spared but the people refused. The daughter was sent out to the lake, to be fed to the dragon. Saint George by chance rode past the lake. The princess tried to send him away, but he vowed to remain. The dragon emerged from the lake while they were conversing. Saint George made the Sign of the Cross and charged it on horseback, seriously wounding it with his lance. He then called to the princess to throw him her girdle, and he put it around the dragon's neck. When she did so, the dragon followed the girl. The princess and Saint George led the dragon back to the city of Silene, where it terrified the populace. Saint George offered to kill the dragon if they consented to become christian and be baptised. Fifteen thousand men including the king of Silene converted to Christianity. The bowl’s interior is decorated with symbols which have iconographic meanings. Diacephalous, the double-headed eagle is the symbol of the Roman and later the Byzantine Empire. Eagle is a symbol of hope and strength, representing salvation. The stag is a symbol of piety, devotion and of God taking care of mankind. Wolf is the symbol of pagan Rome's founding, the culture in which Jesus lived and preached. Dragon and serpent represent sin and death. The birds represent the Phoenix. This is a mythical bird which at death bursts into flames and rises from its own ashes. It is a symbol of the Resurrection and life immortal. Two ladies holding lilies; the lily is a symbol of Easter and immortality. The lily bulb decays in the ground, yet from it new life is released. Lastly the partridge represets the Church and truth. The present bowl, with its extremely rich iconographic backround, is a rare and important example of 18th century Greek metalwork.

Provenance: Private Belgian Collection

Impressive Greek Repoussé Silver Bowl magnifing glass

SOLD

An Ottoman Silver Greek Patriarch’s Ceremonial Staff With Silver-gilt Dragon Head Finial

The present staff is a rare example of Ottoman ecclesiastic metalwork. It is a Greek patriarch’s staff with silver-gilt dragon-head finial, the faceted shaft divided into four sections with raised bosses, the top section with an engraved Greek inscription. The serpents’ eyes are masterfully decorated with purple stones, possibly rubies.

The crosier is the symbol of the governing office of the patriarch. The Eastern orthodox crosier, as can be seen in the present example, has a finial comprising a pair of sculptured serpents or dragons curled back to face each other, with a small cross between them. The symbolism is of the bronze serpents made by Moses in, in the Old Testament, Numbers 21:8-9.

Following the conquest of Constantinople by Mehmed II and his forces in 1453, the city came under Islamic rule after over eight hundred years of Byzantine, Orthodox dominance. The establishment of Constantinople as the seat of the Ottoman Empire held a deep resonance for its new Islamic conquerors, who quickly erected their own spiritual visual language so that Istanbul is now dominated by the minarets of Sinan and its multitude of striking mosques. Relics of its former Byzantine era remain, as throughout Ottoman rule, non-Muslim communities were free to practise their religion and held a certain religious juristic and administrative autonomy, being placed under a special 'protected' status (dhimmi). This silver staff is symbolic of the fusion between Byzantine and Ottoman traditions, and the new aesthetic which formed after the Ottoman conquest. A similar staff, with the characteristic double-headed snakes (a symbolic reference to the wisdom associated with the patriarch’s pastoral leadership) is in the State Historical-Culture Museum Preserve, Moscow Kremlin (inv. no. DK-1536, illustrated in Shifman and Walton, 2002, pp.174-5, no.26).

Provenance: Private UK Collection

An Ottoman Silver Greek Patriarch’s Ceremonial Staff With Silver-gilt Dragon Head Finial magnifing glass

SOLD

Silver Ever And Basin With The Tughra Of Sultan Abdulhamid II

Stamped with the tughra of Sultan Abdulhamid II this set consists of the ever, the basin and the soap holder which serves as a base for the ever. Ever and basins were used for washing hands during ceremonial gatherings and feasts.

It is a beautiful example of 19th century Ottoman metalwork which belongs to a small group of eclectic works displaying a graceful unity of Western and local decorative elements.

Silver Ever And Basin With The Tughra Of Sultan Abdulhamid II magnifing glass

SOLD

Silver Tray With The Tughra Of Sultan Abdulhamid II

Turkey
Reign of Sultan Abdulhamid II (r. 1874-1909)
Dimensions: 63 x 42 cm.

Provenance: Private UK Collection

Silver Tray With The Tughra Of Sultan Abdulhamid II magnifing glass

SOLD

Rare Ottoman Courtly Inkwell, Owned By Head Of The Imperial Chancery Muhammad Khalifa

The present inkwell is an extraordinary example of Ottoman metalwork. The inscriptions on the piece tell us that it was produced in 1708, for the head of the Ottoman imperial chancery Muhammad Khalifa. The inkwell bears an Arabic saying by Ali b. Abi Talib, praising the art of calligraphy. Besides these, the inkwell bears two poems in Turkish. It is a remarkable example of early 18th century Ottoman metalwork.

The dedication in Arabic at the bottom, in naskh script:

Sāhib al-hādha al-muhbāra ser-zumra-i khulafā al-kuttāb Muhammad Khalῑfa li-ma‘dan al-kuttāb Sana 1120

(The owner of this inkwell is the chief of khalifas of scribes Muhammad Khalifa to the heart of scribes)

The Arabic inscription inside the lid, in naskh script:

“Qāla ‘alayh al-salām al-farῑza ba‘d al-…. Wa ba‘d al-maktūbun. Wa qāla ‘Ali karram Allāhu wajhahu ‘alaikum bi husn al-khatt fa innahu min mafātih al-rizq”

(The Prophet said “the duty, following the … and following the written”. And ‘Ali, may God be pleased with him, said “Practise calligraphy since it is one of the keys of livelihood”)

The poem in Ottoman Turkish at the bottom, in naskh script:

“Dil-i mahzûmu bir kez küşâd etsen olmaz mı
Dutalım düşmenin oldum müdârâ kılsan olmaz mı
Lutf ü ihsân ü mürüvvet cümle kâmilden gelür
Her mazarrat kim gelür alemde câhilden gelür”



It’s alright, isn’t it, if you relieve my heavy heart just this once?
Let’s suppose I’ve made myself your worst enemy.
It’s still alright, isn’t it, if you feign friendship.
Favour, benevolence, generosity – all come from the accomplished master;
While all evil in the world comes from the plain ignorant.

The poem in Ottoman Turkish on the exterior of the inkwell, in naskh script:

“Zihî zîbâ hoş muhbere-i âlâ
Kim verir ehl-i dile seyri cilâ
Gûyâ bir dilber-i pâkîzedir
Seyr iden küttâbı eyler mübtelâ
Tarz-ı Şa‘bândır bu râ‘nâ tarz-ı pâk
Zâhir olursa İbn-i Şa‘bândır sezâ – Fi Üsküdar”



What a beautiful inkwell, better than any other!
So fine that gazing at it gives a shine to men of taste.
As though it were a beguiling beauty free of fault,
Every scribe who sees it falls head over heels in love.
How elegantly it was made – free of imperfections. This is how Sha‘ban works!
If this is indeed his work, then call it Sha‘ban’s progeny (İbn-i Şa‘ban), most fittingly.
In (the district of) Üsküdar (in Istanbul).

Rumi

Rumi is recorded as a master silversmith who produced the earliest signed and dated Ottoman silver inkwells and pencases. He was active during the reigns of Sultan Ahmed II (r. 1691-1695), Sultan Mustafa II (r. 1695-1703) and Sultan Ahmed III (r. 1703-1730).

The only comparable inkwell known to us is in the Mesud Hakgüden Collection in Istanbul. Signed by the same artist, Rumi, and dated 1113 AH / 1701 AD. See: Garo Kürkman, Osmanlı Gümüş Damgaları, Istanbul, 1996, p. 80, 81.

Provenance: Private UK collection

Rare Ottoman Courtly Inkwell, Owned By Head Of The Imperial Chancery Muhammad Khalifa magnifing glass

SOLD

An Ottoman Silver Coffee-pot Stamped With The Tughra Of Sultan Mehmed V Reshad

Of conical form, the foot is slightly larger than the diameter of the rim, the cover is attached to the body with hinges. The handle is carved ebony. The cover and body have been stamped with the tughra of Sultan Mehmed V Reshad.

It is a beautiful example of early 20th century Ottoman metalwork which belongs to a small group of silver objects used in the daily life of the Ottoman elite. A comparable Ottoman silver coffeepot from the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum in Istanbul is published in Istanbul – The City and the Sultan, 2007, p. 64.

Provenance: Private UK collection

An Ottoman Silver Coffee-pot Stamped With The Tughra Of Sultan Mehmed V Reshad magnifing glass

SOLD