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Court and Craft: A Masterpiece from Northern Iraq

Court and Craft: A Masterpiece from Northern Iraq


Accompanying a major scholarly exhibition at The Courtauld Gallery, this book explores one of the most beautiful and enigmatic objects of the Courtauld Gallery's collection: a brass container richly inlaid with gold and silver, imitating a lady's textile or leather bag, and probably made in Mosul in northern Iraq around 1300.


No other object of this kind is known. Decorated all round with courtly figures and on top with an elaborate banqueting scene featuring an enthroned couple, it has long been recognised as a masterpiece of Arab metalwork. Yet, despite the superb quality of its design and craftsmanship and its status as a unique object, this exceptional metalwork has never been fully explored.


Encompassing a variety of multidisciplinary essays by distinguished historians and art historians – on subjects ranging from music at the Mongol court, Mosul and Mongol governorship and Mongol marriage customs to the role of women under the Il-Khanids – this publication aims to explore the origins, function and iconography of this splendid luxury object as well as the cultural context in which it was made and used. It will bring together other images of enthroned Mongols with female consorts, as well as scenes of hunters, revellers and musicians in a variety of media, including illustrated manuscripts, ceramics, textiles and metalwork.


By presenting the bag alongside carefully selected contemporary material, it will provide an insight into courtly life under the Mongols in the newly conquered areas of their empire, and it will also provide an unrivalled opportunity to investigate the inlaid brass tradition in Mosul after the Mongol Conquest. Objects made before and after this seismic event will be reproduced side by side to demonstrate how the Mosul metalworkers adapted their work for their new patrons.

  • Edited by Rachel Ward

    Paperback, 260 x 216 mm

    176 pages, 120 colour illustrations
    ISBN: 978 1 907372 65 0

  • Exhibition

    Accompanying an exhibition at The Courtauld Gallery, London, 20 February – 18 May 2014.

  • Contributors

    Rachel Ward with Charles Melville, Robert Hillenbrand, Julian Raby, Anna Contadini, Judith Pfeiffer, James Allan and Teresa Fitzherbert

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