Known as the Wade Cup, after J. H. Wade who bequeathed the funds for its acquisition, this bowl is the best known Islamic art object in the Museum. The rich silver decoration on the exterior of the Iranian bowl is organized into bands and compartments. Climaxing the decorative program is a rare inscription band around the rim with letters formed by human figures, animals, and birds.
The band of animated script around the rim of the cup extends good wishes to the owner. It is translated as "Glory, and success, and government, and bliss, and soundness, and peace of mind, and mercy, and well-being, good health, and duration, and increase, and satisfaction, and care, and continuance to itsowner." Arabic is written from right to left.
The compartments created by the interlacing bands contain tiny figures of humans and animals. These represent the 12 signs of the zodiac whose signs spring from astrology-the practice of interpreting the influence of planets and stars on earthly affairs.