Iran or Afghanistan
early 13th century AD
stonepaste, painted in black under a transparent turquoise glaze, and overglaze-painted in red enamel (mina’i ware)
45 x 43 x 47.5cm
The aquamanile is in the form of a stocky feline with a flattened face. The vessel is hollow, but closed at the neck. It is filled by a vertical pipe with narrow opening and a cup-shaped mouth over the rump, and can only be emptied through a narrow tube concealed below the extended tongue. To either side of the neck are shallow circular dishes, perhaps for sweetmeats.
The black underglaze-painted decoration is outlined in red, and covers the entire vessel, with the exception of the belly. It consists of finely drawn palmettes on the face, neck and back; a tasselled chain on the forehead; stripes on the legs and the curled tail; a pseudo-inscription, or perhaps a simulation of fur, around a raised roundel with a moulded diaper design on the chest; petal motifs on the dishes; and palmette chains on the base of the pipe. Most of the decoration is now obscured by the heavy iridescence.
J.M. Rogers, The Arts of Islam. Masterpieces from the Khalili Collection, London 2010, cat.127, pp.112–13.