Braziers served as portable grills and heaters. The lionheaded knobs with rings provided receptacles for handles to transport the heated unit, while the confronted dragon heads on each side functioned as spit brackets. The names and honorifics mentioned in the monumental inscription identify the patron, the second ruler of the Rasulid dynasty (r. 1250–95). His dynastic emblem, a five‑petalled rosette upon a circular shield, features prominently on both sides of each corner bracket.
This brazier is one of a group of objects, consisting of metalwork, enameled glass, and at least one textile, made in Egypt or Syria for the Rasulid sultans of Yemen and their officials and identified on the basis of inscriptions and heraldic motifs. Most of these objects were delivered as diplomatic gifts from Mamluk sultans, although some may have been direct commissions. Technically and stylistically, there are no distinctions between the works made for the Rasulids and those made for Mamluk owners.
Braziers such as this served as portable grills and heaters. Here, the lion-headed knobs with suspension rings would be threaded with rods or handles used to transport the heated unit. The paired and confronted dragons’ heads positioned centrally on the upper edges of all four sides functioned as spit brackets. Each of the corner elements, consisting of conical finials, edge pieces, and jointed legs with hooflike feet, was cast whole and then bolted to the side panels. Across these panels stretches the monumental inscription, against a background of scrolling vegetal ornament. The dynastic emblem of the Rasulid sultans, a five-petaled rosette upon a circular shield, features prominently on both sides of each corner bracket.
The names and honorifics mentioned in the inscription clearly belong to Sultan al-Malik al-Muzaffar Shams al-Din Yusuf ibn ‘Umar, the second ruler of the Rasulid dynasty (r. 1250–95) and a prolific patron of architecture and literature. At the beginning of his reign, al-Muzaffar Yusuf was occupied with regaining control over Sana‘a, the Tihama, and areas of the south—feats that perhaps earned him the epithet "Subduer of insurgents and rebels" inscribed here. Eventually, a series of strategic political appointments ushered in a long period of peace and prosperity for Yemen, which had already profited from taxation of the lucrative Red Sea trade. For most of his rule, al-Muzaffar Yusuf maintained a favorable diplomatic relationship with the Mamluks: he sent several gift-laden embassies to Cairo and would have received a number in return. Perhaps it was in one of these exchanges that the brazier came into his collection. As many as twelve surviving worksof inlaid metalwork are inscribed with his name.
Ellen Kenney in [Ekhtiar, Soucek, Canby, and Haidar 2011]
1. These are distinct from a group of metalwork objects that are believed to have been produced in Yemen (see Allan 1986). Partial lists of these objects can be found in V. Porter in Daum 1987, pp. 250–52; Allan 1986, pp. 39–41.
2. Carboni 1997, p. 14.
3. On the rosette as Rasulid emblem, see Allan, J[ames] W. "Mamluk Sultanic Heraldry and the Numismatic Evidence: A Reinterpretation." Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, 1970, no. 2 [Studies in Honour of Sir Mortimer Wheeler], pp. 99–112, pp. 104–5.
4. Rex G. Smith in Daum 1987, p. 137. Marco Polo reported that al-Muzaffar Yusuf was "one of the richest princes in the world" from these proceeds (The Book of Ser Marco Polo, the Venetian, Concerning the Kingdom Marvels of the East. Translated by Henry Yule. 2nd ed. London, 1875. vol. 2, Book III, p. 434).
5. V. Porter in Daum 1987 , pp. 232–34.
6. Ibid., pp. 250–52.
Inscription: On body in Arabic in naskhi script:
عز لمولانا السلطان العالم/ العامل العادل المجاهد المرابط/ المؤید المنصور سلطان الاسلام والمسلمین قاهر/ الخوارج و المتمردین السلطان الملك المظفر یوسف بن عمر
Glory to our lord the Sultan, the wise, the ruler, the just, the defender
[of the faith], the warrior [at the frontiers], the supported [by God],
the victorious, sultan of Islam and the Muslims, the subduer of insurgents
and rebels, the Sultan al-Malik al Muzaffar Yusuf son of ‘Umar
On legs in Arabic in kufic script:
[illegible, but may contain some of the same eulogistic phrases as above]
Edward C. Moore (American, New York 1827–1891 New York), New York (until d. 1891; bequeathed to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Renaissance of Islam: Art of the Mamluks," November 21, 1981–January 10, 1982, suppl. #11.
Mexico City. Colegio de San Ildefonso. "Arte islamico del Museo Metropolitano de Arte de Nueva York," September 30, 1994–January 8, 1995, no. 80.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Five-Petaled Rosette: Mamluk Art for the Sultans of Yemen," June 22, 1995–December 31, 1995, no catalogue.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Balcony Calligraphy Exhibition," June 1, 2009–October 26, 2009, no catalogue.
Dimand, Maurice S. A Handbook of Muhammadan Art. 2nd rev. and enl. ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1944. p. 151, ill. fig. 90 (b/w).
Wilkinson, Charles K. "Heating and Cooking in Nishapur." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin vol. 2 (1944). pp. 282-287, ill., P. 287 (b/w).
Dimand, Maurice S. A Handbook of Mohammadan Art. Iran Library. Tehran: Bongah Tarjomeh va Nashr Ketab, 1957. p. 114, ill. fig. 53.
Dimand, Maurice S. A Handbook of Muhammadan Art. 3rd rev. and enl. ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1958. p. 114, ill. fig. 53.
Dimand, Maurice S. A Handbook of Muhammadan Art. Publications, 36.. Lahore: The Panjabi Adabi Academy, 1964. p. 114, ill. fig 53 (b/w).
Allan, James. Metalwork of the Islamic World: the Aron Collection. London, 1986. pp. 39–41.
Daum, Werner, ed. Yemen: 3000 Years of Art and Civilisation in Arabia Felix. Innsbruck, Frankfurt/Main: Pinguin, 1987. pp. 250–52.
Welch, Stuart Cary. The Islamic World. vol. 11. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987. p. 55, ill. fig. 39 (color).
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Daniel S. Walker, Arturo Ponce Guadián, Sussan Babaie, Stefano Carboni, Aimee Froom, Marie Lukens Swietochowski, Tomoko Masuya, Annie Christine Daskalakis-Matthews, Abdallah Kahil, and Rochelle Kessler. "Colegio de San Ildefonso, Septiembre de 1994-Enero de 1995." In Arte Islámico del Museo Metropolitano de Arte de Nueva York. Mexico City: Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, 1994. no. 80, pp. 204-205, ill. p. 205 (color).
Carboni, Stefano. Following the Stars: The Zodiac in Islamic Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1997. p. 14.
Jenkins-Madina, Marilyn. "Collecting the "Orient" at the Met: Early Tastemakers in America." Ars Orientalis vol. 30 (2000). p. 80, ill. fig. 11 (b/w).
Ekhtiar, Maryam, Sheila R. Canby, Navina Haidar, and Priscilla P. Soucek, ed. Masterpieces from the Department of Islamic Art in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1st ed. ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011. no. 104, pp. 139, 155-156, ill. p. 155 (color).
Canby, Sheila R. "The Islamic Galleries at The Met." Arts of Asia, Arts of Asia, vol. 42 (September/October 2012). pp. 84-85, ill. fig. 9 (color).