Illustrations of Ayyubids on the
Blacas Ewer
Mosul, 1232 AD






Full image centred on sides 3 & 4



Full image centred on sides 7 & 8


Images of the shoulder & central band.

Shoulder, Side 2
Hunter with bow



Shoulder, Side 10
Two infantry with sword & buckler



Central Band, Side 10
Men with spear & buckler or bow


Images of the lower body

Side 1
Musicians



Side 2
Ruler with bow and servant



Side 3
Cavalry & infantry with sword & buckler



Side 4
Musicians



Side 5
Horsearcher & lady



Side 6
Camel caravan



Side 7
Ruler, supplicant & guard



Side 8
Horsearcher hunting



Side 9
Women with mirror



Side 10
Horseman with animals


Title: The Blacas ewer
Description: Brass ewer; engraved and inlaid with silver and copper. Made of sheet brass hammered to form a faceted body. Inscription and panels with various figural images (e.g. hunting, battles, courtly entertainment) on a background filled with geometrical patterns. Panels with common outline and linked and lobed frame. Top and part of shoulder of ewer damaged.
Culture/period: Middle Islamic
Date: April 1232 (Rajab 629 AH)
Production place: Mosul, northern Iraq
Materials: brass with silver & copper inlay
Technique: inlaid, engraved
Dimensions:
    Height: 30.4 centimetres
    Width: 22 centimetres
    Depth: 21.5 centimetres
Inscriptions:
    Inscription Language: Arabic
    Inscription Transliteration: Shuja` ibn Man`a al-Mausili
    Inscription Comment: name of maker
British Museum 1866,1229.61



Referenced as figure 296 in The military technology of classical Islam by D Nicolle
296. Inlaid metal ewer by Shujaʿ ibn Manā, The Blacas Ewer, 1232 AD, Jazīrah (? ), British Museum (Ric I, Pope),

Click on a figure for a detail containing that figure

Vol. 1, p. 45. In this connection it is interesting to note that the ballock-dagger, which was common in 14th century western Europe, is clearly illustrated in one mid-13th century Islamic source from the Jazīrah (Fig. 296).
Vol. 2, pp 415-416. One pictorial source from just after Salah al Din's death, and from the region where some of the best siege troops were recruited, shows an infantryman with a short spear (Fig. 284). Similarly equipped troops appear in both Christian and Muslim, art of this area in the following century and probably indicate that these men and their reputations lasted right up until the Mongol invasions (Figs. 288, 289, 292, 294, 296, 297, 298, 299, 302, 305 and 306).



A ewer with missing foot and spout, inlaid with silver and copper. The delicate inlay decoration covering the body and neck is exceptionally fine. A remarkable range of figurative scenes of contemporary court life is depicted in a series of medallions. The medallions are surrounded by a geometric pattern alternating with bands of inscriptions and figures. Men have covered heads and wear tunics with straight sleeves. Their costumes reflect the Turkish origin of the Zangid dynasty. The princes have ornamental tiraz bands around the sleeves of their robes. Soldiers have swords with straight blades and round buckles. Two noble women are depicted: one is shown looking in a mirror accompanied by an attendant; another is riding on a camel in a camel litter with a servant. A lute-player has the bottom of her face veiled. Other medallions depict a hunting scene with a man shooting an arrow at his prey; another hunter with a cheetah on the back of his horse; musicians, dancers and drinking revellers. There is even a scene from the Persian epic poem the Shahnama representing Bahram Gur shooting an arrow while Azadeh plays the harp on the back of his horse. Given the outstanding quality of the decoration and the scenes of courtly life the ewer was probably intended for use at court. The patron may have been Badr al-Din Lu'lu', who ruled Mosul (AH 629-59 / AD 1232-59), or a member of his court. A number of objects inscribed with his name reveal that he commissioned a number of metalwork objects. Although the technique of inlaid metalwork originated in Iran, new shapes were introduced in Mosul often inspired by Byzantine forms. Ibn Said, a Spanish Muslim, travelled all over Syria, Mesopotamia and Iraq in AH 648 / AD 1250. In his book, Geography, he mentions inlaid brass vessels made in Mosul that were exported and presented to various rulers. Therefore, Mosul metalwork with its glittering inlay had clearly gained sufficient status to compete with gold and silver.
Source: Emily Shovelton "Ewer" in Discover Islamic Art. Place: Museum With No Frontiers, 2014.



See also:
Ayyubid Hunters on a Canister, 1238-40
Scorpio on a pen-box from Mosul, 1230-1250AD
Ayyubids on a Ewer, Jazirah, 1246-1247

Other Illustrations of Ayyubid Costume & Soldiers
Other 12th Century Illustrations of Costume & Soldiers
Index of Illustrations of Costume & Soldiers