VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Container for Victuals
SMV 26-N-49 50
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

The oval-shaped container consists of two boxes set into each other. A probable third box as well as the lid is missing. This magnificent engraved piece of late Mamluk metalwork is decorated with four round medallions showing the scriptural heraldic symbol of the Mamluk Sultans and four oval medallions filled with pseudo-Kufi inscriptions and complex knots against an arabesque background. The inscription in the round medallions of each box repeats in naskhi the invocation ‘izz li-maulana as-sultan – “Glory to our master, the sultan”. The inlay and the engravings are finely executed and proof of the masterful workmanship of the artisan.

History of the Object
This container for food was most likely originally displayed during the Renaissance in the cabinet of art and curiosities of Albrecht V (1528-1579), Duke of Bavaria, in Munich. From an inventory of this royal collection we know that a random assembly of objects used in Jewish rituals was also displayed. According to Barbara Staudinger (The Jewish World and the Wittelsbach Dynasty, Munich 2007, p. 17), “even though in all probability these objects were not of Jewish provenance, they were marked as ‘Jewish’ and perceived as such. They were not exhibited within the collection to fulfill any representative purpose, such as for the pleasure of aristocratic visitors, but were used as objects for study and contemplation by scholars, for whom access to the cabinet – which included the oldest display of ‘Judaica’ in the world – was available upon request. Of these ‘cult objects’ virtually none have survived to this day. Only a Syrian container for victuals now in the Museum of Ethnology in Munich was most likely originally displayed in the cabinet of art on the third table with the supposed collection of Jewish ritual objects.

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Type
Decorative Art 
Materials
Brass with gold and silver inlay 
Measurements
Width 17 cm Height 15,2 cm. Length 27,5 cm.  
Creator name
Unknown 
Creator date
Unknown 
Where it was made
Syria 
Geography
Syria 
Time period
AD 16th century ~ AD 16th century 
Creation date
16th Century; first half 
Function
Food container 
Acquisition
Unknown 
Copyright
 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
State Property, Germany 
Museum
Five Continents Museum, Munich 
Credit line
State Museum of Ethnology, Munich, Germany 

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