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HOME : Islamic Art : AS Collection 4 : Bronze Mortar with Relief and Incised Decoration
Bronze Mortar with Relief and Incised Decoration - LO.652
Origin: Central Asia
Circa: 1100 AD to 1200 AD
Dimensions: 4.625" (11.7cm) high x 5.75" (14.6cm) wide
Collection: Islamic Art
Medium: Bronze

Additional Information: AS

Location: Great Britain
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Mortar of cast bronze with incised designs decorated with almond and romnbhoid shaped bosses. Bronze mortars were unknown to the cultures of the Mediterranean area and the Middle East in pre-Islamic times and were probably developed in Persia in the 10th century as copies of cruder stone prototypes. Mortars were used for pounding small amounts of food, such as spices or herbs in cookery, and were also an important item of alchemical and pharmaceutical equipment. They were often made of quarternary alloy consisting of coper and lead with some tin and zinc, known in medieval Persia as shabah mufragh. The high content of lead (acting as a flux) allowed an easier casting but gave the objects a softness whose effects are to be seen in the many surviving examples which are mis- shapen though heavy pestle work. Indeed they must have been a rather sinister source of lead poisoning. For a similar mortar see: Hayward Gallery, The Arts of Islam, 1976: pl.181, p.171. - (LO.652)


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