African textiles, £10.99
Height: 40.000 cm
Gift of Dr Michael Rogers
ME OA 1988.11-7.1
Room 34: The Islamic world
Kilga, support for a water jar
From Cairo, Egypt, 12th century AD
Marble kilga were designed to hold a large zir (jar) of unglazed earthenware which allowed water to filter through its porous body into the stone receptacle beneath.
Marble jar supports of this type are unique to Egypt. They helped to filter the polluted and muddy water of the Nile, thereby making it fit to drink. Ibn Ridwan, a physician at the Fatimid court in Cairo in the eleventh century, wrote: 'The best thing is not to use this water until it has been purified several times ..... the purified part is placed in a jar; only what seeps through the porosities of the jar will be used'.
The figural decoration on this kilga suggests that it
was intended for a palace rather than a religious building. It is
supported by crouching lions and more lions are carved in relief on
its sides, with an ornamental inscription containing good wishes
for the owner.