Begging Bowl

Object Name: Begging bowl

Date: late 19th–early 20th century

Geography: Attributed to Central Asia

Medium: Silver; fire-gilded with applied silver chain decoration, carnelians and turquoises, and tassels.

Dimensions: 3 1/4 x 9 in. (8.3 x 22.9 cm)

Classification: Metal

Credit Line: Gift of Marshall and Marilyn R. Wolf, 2007

Accession Number: 2007.497.12


Begging bowls, or kashkuls, were used by traveling dervishes, serving as receptacles for alms. Islamic mendicant dervishes are associated with Sufism, the mystical dimension of Islam, thanks to which Islam was dispersed around much of Central Asia. Originally, kashkuls were made of a large nutshell from the Seychelles islands known as coco-de-mer; this piece is made of silver echoing the typical nutlike kashkul shape. It is decorated with carnelians in diamond and teardrop shapes, turquoise, and a silver chain with tassels.