Timurid dynasty, AH 903 / AD 1498
From Herat, Afghanistan
Made for a Timurid ruler
The inscription band around the neck contains the name and titles of the Timurid ruler Abu al-Ghazi Sultan Husayn (1470-1506), a great patron of the arts. Under his rule Herat was an important artistic and intellectual centre. He wrote poetry himself and the mystical poet Rumi was attached to his court. Contemporaries describe court banquets with musical performances, poetry recitals, literary discussions and riddle competitions, all accompanied by much wine drinking. Tankards like this were used for wine at such gatherings and many of them are inscribed with Persian verses appropriate for the occasion.
Although the tankard is missing its dragon-headed handle and lid and the decoration is badly worn, it is of great documentary importance because of the royal inscription on the body and the signature of the craftsman, Muhammad ibn Shamsi al-Ghuri, and the date on the base.
R. Ward, Islamic metalwork (London, The British Museum Press, 1993)