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100 Highlights
of the MFAH
Take a tour through some of the most significant objects in the MFAH collections. On these pages, you can browse 100 highlights from collections throughout the institution. Then visit the Museum in person to discover your own favorites.
 
 
 
IRAN
Incense Burner
12th century
Bronze, cast and pierced

11 7/8 x 12 x 4 3/4 inches

 
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Gift of the Honorable and Mrs. Hushang Ansary, and museum purchase with funds provided by the Brown Foundation Accessions Endowment Fund and the Alice Pratt Brown Museum Fund

Arts of Asia
 
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Metalwork is one of the crafts in which Muslim artists excelled. This stylized, feline-shaped incense burner is among the most successful products of Iranian metalwork under the Seljuk dynasty (1040–1194), whose artistic patronage witnessed a proliferation of figurative motifs in various media. The head is movable and is meant to facilitate the replacement of aromatic substances inside the body after they evaporate.

The sculptural quality of this container confirms the appreciation of figurative art in the secular sphere of Islam, a fact that is also demonstrated by other objects in the Islamic collection at the MFAH that similarly exhibit animal and human subjects in their decoration.