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A Saljuq Mināʾi beaker, Kashan, Iran, late 12th century.

A larger image of this view of Seljuk Beaker-Freer Gallery F1928.2

A larger image of this view of Seljuk Beaker-Freer Gallery F1928.2

A larger image of this view of Seljuk Beaker-Freer Gallery F1928.2

HISTORICAL PERIOD: Saljuq period, late 12th century
MEDIUM: Stone-paste painted under glaze and over glaze with enamel (mina'i)
STYLE: Mina'i ware
DIMENSIONS: H x W x D: 12 x 11.2 x 11.2 cm (4 3/4 x 4 7/16 x 4 7/16 in)
GEOGRAPHY: Iran, Kashan
CREDIT LINE: Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
CLASSIFICATION(S): Ceramic, Vessel
TYPE: Beaker
PROVENANCE: 1928 Parish-Watson Company, New York 1928. From 1928 Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from Parish-Watson Company, New York in 1928

DESCRIPTION: Beaker of slightly spreading cylindrical form on a low foot rim; broken and repaired. Clay: soft, white.
Glaze: white, stanniferous.
Decoration painted in red, blue, grayish-yellow and pale green enamels over glaze: Bizhan and Manizha from the Shahnamah.

This celebrated beaker is the only known object from the Islamic world that is illustrated with a complete narrative cycle from the Shahnama, the Persian Book of Kings. Organized in horizontal bands, the small but highly detailed images recount the adventures of Bizhan and Manizha, beginning with Firdawsi's beloved telling the story. The climax in the narrative appears in the lower register and depicts Rustam rescuing Bizhan from the pit where he has been imprisoned by the Turanian king Afrasiyab, Manizha's evil father. This pictorial cycle predates any other depictions of the Bizhan and Manizha romance by some one hundred years.

It is interesting to note that the adventures of the two lovers appear on a drinking cup, a vessel of particular ritual significance in royal banquets during the ancient and Islamic periods.

Source: Freer Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. F1928.2

The man (Rustam) holding a stone over his head that he has removed from the mouth of the pit in the 1st image, the sadled horse and man with red shield on the 3rd image are referenced as figure 390 in The military technology of classical Islam by D Nicolle
390. Ceramic beaker from Rayy, early 13th century AD, Iranian, Freer Gallery of Art, Washington (Lew).

p.231. Illustrated sources can, of course, rarely indicate the precise structure of a large round shield. They do, however, show that a great many designs were used. Some had a single central boss, others four smaller bosses that clearly held interior straps or grips. Yet others had no visible bosses at all. A few even seem to have been given decoratively scalloped edges, although shields such as these may have been of cane or reeds (Figs. 19, 20, 76, 127, 146, 163, 166, 196, 198, 218, 220B, 221, 230, 243, 257, 262, 289, 330, 387, 390, 392, 412, 420, 421, 422, 425, 454, 502, 515, 518, 531, 536, 537, 543, 580, 581, 598, 606 and 623). An oval style of shield also seems to have persisted in some areas. Perhaps it was directly related to a similar late-Roman form, while it might also have been the style from which the later kite-shaped shield developed (Figs. 123, 190A, 196, 212, 220A, 257, 354, 504, 508, 531, 543 and 564).

and see Nomad horse archery by David Nicolle, an extract from The military technology of classical Islam

A larger image of the Panoramic View of this Saljuq Mina'i beaker with the story of Bijan and Manija.

Other Seljuk Illustrations of Costume & Soldiers