Attributed to Iran, Nishapur. Excavated in Iran, Nishapur
Steatite; carved, incised
H. 13/16 in. (2 cm) Diam. 7 13/16 in. (19.8 cm)
Rogers Fund, 1940
Not on view
The carving of utensils and other objects from soft stones is part of a longstanding artistic tradition in the Near East that dates back for millennia. Steatite and other related talcs (the English word is of Persian origin) are easy to carve, relatively strong and non-brittle, and are impervious to fire. Many of medieval Nishapur's stone utensils demonstrate a high degree of artistic merit, despite having been fashioned from a lowly material and serving a utilitarian function. These pieces often have powerfully sculptural forms with silhouettes that take the form of beautiful two-dimensional patterns. This lamp made of "Mashhad" stone has a circular well and twelve triangular flanges for holding wicks. The well and flanges are incised with circles with dots at their center. The rim of the well is incised with cross-hatched lines.
1939, excavated at Tepe Madrasa in Nishapur, Iran by the Metropolitan Museum of Art's expedition; 1940, acquired by the Museum in the division of finds
Paris. Musée du Louvre. "Louvre Long Term Loan," April 28, 2004–April 27, 2006, no catalogue.