Mosul, Northern Iraq
13th century AD
brass, cast in openwork and engraved
30.5 x 49.5cm
This suspension bracket could well have been from a large, freestanding quadrant, sextant or astrolabe in an astronomical observatory. Its design recalls the very similar, but smaller, bracket on the geomantic plate made by Muhammad ibn Khutlugh al-Mawsili, dated 639 AH (1241–2 AD), now in the British Museum.
The bracket is decorated with openwork arabesques, the curves of which are strongly reminiscent of the gaping jaws of dragons. The piece is very finely made and was intended to be seen from both the front and the back, because the finish on both sides is equally refined. It bears the engraved signature of its maker, Shakir ibn Ahmad.
F. Maddison & E. Savage-Smith, Science, Tools & Magic, The Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, volume XII, Part One, London 1997, cat.120, pp.206–7, 209. J.M. Rogers, The Arts of Islam. Masterpieces from the Khalili Collection, London 2010, cat.111, p.101.