11 7/8 x 12 x 4 3/4 inches
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 FundArts of Asia
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.