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Bird-Shaped Vessel

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

Ancient Iranian Ceramics

These ceramics demonstrate ancient Iranian artists’ interest in creating containers and other ritual instruments in the shape of mammals or birds. This tradition was of incredible duration, stretching back to about 3000 B.C.E. of the Neolithic period and lasting as late as the sixth century C.E. These shapes relate Iranian art to the customs of neighboring regions of Mesopotamia, Greece, and Central Asia where animal art also played an integral role.
MEDIUM Clay, slip
  • Place Made: Iran
  • DATES 250 B.C.E.-224 C.E.
    PERIOD Parthian Period
    DIMENSIONS 7 1/16 x 10 1/4 x 4 15/16 in. (18 x 26 x 12.5 cm)  (show scale)
    ACCESSION NUMBER 2015.65.23
    CREDIT LINE Gift of the Arthur M. Sackler Foundation, NYC, in memory of James F. Romano
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION A vessel in the form of a hemisphere whose flat section serves as the back of the bird. A simple head with pellet eyes rises from one side and a short stubby tail flares out on the opposite side. The columnar base of the vessel is the mouth by which the vessel is filled. The walls of the base continue upward within the vessel forming a sort of interior well or dam. When the vessel, which must be inverted to be filled, is turned upright the liquid remains inside without a plug in the base. An opening in the beak serves as a spout from which the liquid may be poured. The sides of the vessel are incised to suggest wings while a series of regular gouges on the back indicates feathers. The beak and eyes are painted and a stripe runs over the head and down the neck to the back. Painted streaks parallel the gouges on the back, and the incised lines of the wings are also painted.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Bird-Shaped Vessel, 250 B.C.E.-224 C.E. Clay, slip, 7 1/16 x 10 1/4 x 4 15/16 in. (18 x 26 x 12.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Arthur M. Sackler Foundation, NYC, in memory of James F. Romano, 2015.65.23. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 2015.65.23_PS9.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 2015.65.23_PS9.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2015
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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