Near East, Islamic world, probably Jericho, ca. 800 to 1200 CE. A beautiful mold-made ceramic ewer capped with the head of an ibex. The ibex head is black-slipped; the upper body of the vessel below it is slipped with a pale yellow with black highlights on the register of diamond-shapes around its widest point, and the lower body is slipped with red. Molded diamonds and wide-armed "X"s flow in repeated registers around the upper body, while the lower body has repeated molded patterns of lines and circles. The entire piece stands on a round foot. The ibex head is detailed, with wide eyes and the segmentation of its horns molded into its shape. Size: 5.8" W x 9.4" H (14.7 cm x 23.9 cm)
The ewer form was popular throughout the Islamic world at this time. The ibex as an artistic symbol is an ancient one in the Near East and central Asia, depicted in stone carvings by the Bactrians, in the bronze work of Luristan, and in Persian ceramics, among other times and places. Its meaning seems bound up in virility, masculinity, and royalty, probably because of its horns. Here the head looks startled and disembodied, perhaps meant to remind the viewer of a successful hunt.
Provenance: private Orange County, California, USA collection acquired before 2000
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