Court and Craft

Court and Craft

Islamic History

Court and Craft
A Masterpiece from Northern Iraq

Author(s): Rachel Ward

Reviewed by: Cleo Cantone, London, UK



Edited by former British Museum curator Rachel Ward, who organised a workshop in January 2012, the catalogue forms an invaluable collection of essays on the period and place ascribed to bag’s manufacture and accompanies the carefully curated exhibition currently showing at the Courthauld Gallery. An array of treasures from Islamic art museums and libraries from around the world, including objects and manuscripts, are explored in an attempt to link them with this unique brass bag. Recent research suggests it was probably made for a noblewoman in the court of the Il-Khanids, the Mongol dynasty who ruled over much of present-day Iran, Azerbaijan and Turkey in the 13-14th centuries. When it was originally purchased by Gambier Parry in 1858, it was called an ‘oriental box’ and its name continued to be changed as the speculation of its function grew in scholarly circles. The greatest clue to its purpose lies in the decoration of the bag itself, namely in the court scene on its lid in which an attendant is carrying a similarly-shaped bag across his shoulder.

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