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Work Bottle with coat of arms

Department of Islamic Art: Regional Fragmentation (1250–1500)

Bottle with coat of arms

© 2010 Musée du Louvre / Hughes Dubois

Islamic Art
Regional Fragmentation (1250–1500)

This magnificent bottle is decorated with enamel and gold. Bottles of this type, intended for an elite, were probably used for decanting wine or for sweet beverages. This one bears an inscription, in the name of an unidentified owner, whose message remains something of a mystery.

This bottle was one of a series of large bottles with enameled and gilt decoration that were produced between the second quarter of the 13th and the late 14th century. They are thought to have been used at ceremonial occasions attended by the Mamluk elite and requiring the presence of the cup-bearer, with whom they are naturally associated. The production of a bottle over 50 cm tall with a decoration that required several firings is an impressive technical feat. The bottle in the Louvre can be dated to the mid-14th century; the two simurghs (mythical birds) entwined around the neck and the circular medallions containing lotus blossoms recall the Chinese motifs that were introduced into Mamluk art during the second third of the 14th century.

The bottle is adorned with a coat of arms and a large inscription. The coat of arms—an eagle with spread wings above a bowl—was long thought to be that of Tuguz Timur, an emir in the service of Sultan al-Nasir Muhammad ibn Qalawun (r. 1293–1341, with interruptions), assassinated in 1345. But the inscription, though difficult to interpret, suggests that the owner served two successive sultans, perhaps al-Kamil Sha‘ban I (r. 1345–1346), then al-Nasir Hasan (r. 1347–1351 then 1354–1361). So the owner cannot have been Tuguz Timur, and remains a mystery.

The bottle entered the Louvre in 1893, the same year that a curator was appointed to manage the newly created section devoted to “Muslim arts”. It had previously belonged to Frédéric Spitzer, a Paris-based Austrian collector whose collection was published between 1890 and 1892.


. Fellinger G., “Le verre à décor émaillé et doré”, in Makariou S. (ed.), Les Arts de l’Islam au musée du Louvre, Paris, 2012.
. Elisséeff N., Rice D. S. and Wiet G., Répertoire chronologique d'épigraphie arabe, vol. 16, Le Caire, Imprimerie de l'Institut français d'archéologie orientale, 1964, no. 6034, p. 27.
. David-Weill J. “Emedanda”, Arabica, t. IV, 1957, p. 73–76.
Mayer L. A., Saracenic Heraldry: a Survey, Oxford, Clarendon press, 1933, no. 7, p. 238

Technical description

  • Bottle with coat of arms

    mid-14th century

    Syria or Egypt

  • Blown glass, enameled and gilt decoration

    H. 51.1 cm; W. 24.4 cm

  • Purchased in 1893

    OA 3365

  • Islamic Art

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