Incense burner

ca. mid-1st millennium B.C.
Southwestern Arabia
H. 27.6 cm, W. 23.7 cm
Credit Line:
Gift of Dr. Sidney A. Charlat, in memory of his parents, Newman and Adele Charlat, 1949
Accession Number:
  • Description

    This bronze incense burner from southwestern Arabia consists of a cylindrical container set on a conical base. Seven spikes extend upward from a high front panel that resembles an architectural facade and bears a depiction in relief of two snakes flanking a round disk set within a crescent. The disk-and-crescent motif appears often on South Arabian votive plaques and censers. An ibex, separately cast and identifiable by its ridged horns, stands on a plinth that projects from the censer's front. The ibex serves as a handle for the censer and perhaps had cultic significance; both the ibex and the snake are frequently associated with South Arabian deities. The serpent, which had apotropaic powers, has been identified with the national god of the Macin kingdom, while the ibex may represent the god of the Sabaeans.

  • Provenance

    1920s, collection of Kaiky Muncherjee, Aden; 1931, bought by Joseph Brummer from Gazdar; 1949, sold by the estate of the late Joseph Brummer; acquired by the Museum in 1949, gift of Dr. Sidney A. Charlat, in memory of his parents, Newman and Adele Charlat.

  • Exhibition History

    "Six Thousand Years of Persian Art," American Institute of Iranian Art and Archaeology, New York, April 24–July 1, 1940.

  • References

    Rossini, Carlo Conti. 1926–27. "Dalle Rovine di Ausàn." Dedalo 7, pp. 746-747.

    Bossert, Helmuth Th. 1930. Geschichte des Kunstgewerbes IV. Berlin: E. Wasmuth, p. 351, fig. 2.

    Ackerman, Phyllis. 1940. Guide to the Exhibition of Persian Art. New York: The Iranian Institute, no. 1, p. 300.

    Parke-Bernet Galleries, Inc. 1949. Part Two of the Notable Art Collection belonging to the Estate of the late Joseph Brummer. Parke-Bernet Galleries, Inc., New York, May 11-14, 1949, lot 91.

    Bossert, Helmuth Th. 1951. Altsyrien: Kunst und Handwerk in Cypern, Syrien, Palästina, Transjordanien, und Arabien von den Anfängen bis zum völligen Aufgehen in der griechisch-römischen Kultur. Tübingen, no. 1352.

    Barnett, Richard D. 1964. "A South Arabian Ivory Vessel." Eretz-Israel 7, pl. II.

    Muscarella, Oscar W. 1988. Bronze and Iron: Ancient Near Eastern Artifacts in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, pp. 353-355, no. 476.

    Evans, Jean M. 2000. The Year One: Art of the Ancient World East and West, exh. cat. edited by Elizabeth J. Milleker. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, no. 83, p. 106.

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History