VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Model of a House
SKAZsz 2263 MNW
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

Low, single-storey building with a rectangular inner courtyard and a terrace over its roofed portion. Standing in the courtyard are eight schematically rendered figures – probably male – with slightly pointed headgear and objects resembling cups/chalices in their hands. Positioned at the centre of the courtyard is an object resembling a round table or a fountain. Upon the terrace/roof are two surviving figures of dogs, once part of a four-sided canine figure. A fully satisfactory explanation of the role served by such models of houses/sanctuaries has yet to be formulated. The most generally accepted theory is that of Ernst Kühnel whereby such objects were used by Iranians celebrating the New Year (Nou Ruz), which is on the day of the Northward equinox, or the longest night of the year (Shab-e Yalda). The Nou Ruz interpretation seems to be substantiated by such iconographic details as the cups (probably for water or for wine) held by the figures, the dogs (symbolizing the passing of winter), and the cypress trees (symbols of freshness and of youth).

History of the Object
Models of this sort, occurred in Iran and Djazira over the 12th – 14th century. Their general features comprise a quadrangular shape, separated central portion (courtyard, either open or roofed), and a rooftop terrace with a balustrade. Any figures always appear in an even number and in an upright position. As far as animal figures are concerned, the repertory comprises, most frequently, birds as well as lions and dogs.

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Type
Decorative Art 
Materials
quartz ceramic, glaze 
Measurements
8,0 x 19,0 x 14,5 cm 
Creator name
Unknown 
Creator date
Unknown 
Where it was made
Iran 
Geography
Iran 
Time period
AD 12th century ~ AD 13th century 
Creation date
12th / early 13th Century 
Function
Decorative 
Acquisition
Acquired by the museum in 1950. 
Copyright
Copyright Ⓒ National Museum in Warsaw 
Acknowledgements
National Museum in Warsaw 
Owner
National Museum in Warsaw (state property) 
Museum
National Museum in Warsaw 
Credit line
Courtesy of the National Museum in Warsaw 

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