© Khalili Family Trust

Name of Object:

Tall ewer


London, United Kingdom

Holding Museum:

Khalili Family Trust – Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art


AD 7th or early 8th century

Type of object:

Metalwork; ewer; niello; silver; gilding; beaten and worked in relief

Museum Inventory Number:

MTW 455

Material(s) / Technique(s):

Silver, beaten and worked in relief, with linear engraving enhanced by niello and traces of gilding


H: 38.5cm

Period / Dynasty:

Sasanian / Umayyad


Iran or western Asia


The ewer has an ovoid body with a high pedestal foot and a pointed flat pouring spout. It does not retain its handle. The body is decorated with three oval medallions, the two on either side with a winged lion or a gryphon facing forward with a raised forepaw and a forked tongue, while the central one is decorated with a double-headed eagle. The space in between the medallions is filled with trefoil palmettes. The neck and the foot are enriched with a band of roundels containing quatrefoils. Achaemenid and Roman influences are notable respectively in the winged lion as a motif and in the niello decoration of the neck and foot. These elements demonstrate the multicultural influences on later Sasanian metalwork. However, a dating towards the beginning of the Islamic period is also possible since the heraldic poses of the eagles and gryphons may suggest a workshop in western Iran, Syria or even Constantinople.

Selected bibliography:

Rogers, J.M., The Arts of Islam. Masterpieces from the Khalili Collection, London: Thames & Hudson, 2010: no.15, p.40.

Citation of this web page:

Compiled by Roberta Marin  "Tall ewer" in Explore Islamic Art Collections , Museum With No Frontiers, 2019. http://www.museumwnf.org/thematicgallery/thg_galleries/database_item.php?itemId=objects;EPM;uk;Mus21;4;en&id=gold_and_silver

Prepared by: Compiled by Roberta Marin

MWNF Working Number: UK1 04