Basin with Zodiac signs and royal titles

Object Name: Basin

Date: late 13th–early 14th century

Geography: Attributed to Egypt or Syria

Medium: Brass; engraved and inlaid with silver and black compound

Dimensions: H. 4 1/2 in. (11.4 cm)
Diam. 12 3/4 in. (32.4 cm)

Classification: Metal

Credit Line: Edward C. Moore Collection, Bequest of Edward C. Moore, 1891

Accession Number: 91.1.553


The bottom of this basin depicts the sun surrounded by all twelve signs on the zodiac and the seven planets of medieval belief. The titles of an unknown noble are arranged around the rim. This basin, with a matching ewer, may have been used for ablutions.
When shown alone, the symbol for Scorpio (al-’aqrab, "the scorpion") is two scorpions with their bodies curved in a circle. When shown with its Planetary Lord Mars, Mars holds the scorpions by their tails. Because he cannot also hold his two attributes, a sword and a severed head, when shown with Scorpio he wears a helmet and a coat of mail so that he is still recognizable.