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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

Container in the form of a bull bearing a pot

Photo: Elizabeth Mann

Container in the form of a bull bearing a pot

12th to early 13th century

In the pre-Islamic Zoroastrian religion of Iran, cattle, especially bulls with inward turning horns, had special meaning as the first creature god created. Their popularity continued with Islam, and images of cattle such as this bull-shaped container became particularly widespread during the artistically prolific Seljuk Empire.

The animal’s body is hollow to hold an unknown liquid, with the open nose acting as spout. The pot on the bull's back also held liquid and may have acted as a flower vase.
Stonepaste; glazed in opaque white, luster painted (with later repairs)
17 1/2 x 6 in. (44.45 x 15.24 cm)
L.: 12 1/2 in.
Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection
Provenance: [S. Craig Preston, New York]; purchased from Mr. Preston by Seattle Art Museum (Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection), 1938
Photo: Elizabeth Mann
Now on view at the Asian Art Museum


Exhibition HistoryNew York, New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Court and Cosmos: The Great Age of the Seljuqs, Apr. 25 - July 24, 2016. Text by Sheila R. Canby, et al. Cat. no. 134, p. 217-218.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Asian Art Museum, Boundless: Stories of Asian Art, Feb. 8, 2020 - ongoing.
Published ReferencesRogers, Millard B. Iranian Art in the Seattle Art Museum [Seattle Art Museum Engagement Book 1973]. Seattle: Seattle Art Museum. 1973. Reproduced pl 37.

Watson, Oliver. Persian Lustre Ware. London: Faber and Faber, 1985, fig. 98

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