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Arts of Africa

At the MFAH, art from the diverse continent of Africa spans ancient to contemporary times and includes the world's most significant collection of gold objects: the Glassell Collection of African Gold.


8 x 20 inches

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Gift of Cathy and Vahid Kooros in honor of Senator Kazem Koroos

Arts of Africa

This brass basin, which was originally inlaid with silver, can be dated to the first half of the 14th century thanks to the inscription engraved on its surface, which invokes glory on a sultan whose name is not mentioned.

Although the inscription does not include a date, it conforms to the style of such engravings established under the reign of the Mamluk sultan Nasir al-Din Muhammad (1293–1341).

Inlaid metalwork was first developed in eastern Iran in the late 11th century, and it reached the central Islamic lands in the course of the 13th century. At the time, Syria and Egypt emerged as prominent regions for this craft, supported by the patronage of the Mamluk dynasty (1250–1517). Produced by both rulers and courtiers, Mamluk metal vessels are often distinguished by blazons, or symbols, that identify their patrons by giving their titles or indicating their role at court.