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(Indian, active mid-1700s)
Gum tempera and gold on paper
Painting: 20.6 x 14.6 cm (8 1/8 x 5 3/4 in.)
Gift in honor of Madeline Neves Clapp; Gift of Mrs. Henry White Cannon by exchange; Bequest of Louise T. Cooper; Leonard C. Hanna Jr. Fund; From the Catherine and Ralph Benkaim Collection 2013.348.a
The bird-headed decanter evokes blood rites of kingship in pre-Islamic Iran.
The artist has depicted a glass or crystal duck-headed decanter adorned with a gilded grapevine motif, signaling the contents. The red wine flows from the duck’s mouth into a tiny cup. Such bird-shaped wine vessels are vestiges of the blood sacrifices once part of ancient Persian court rituals. On the verso, floral sprigs illuminate the central calligraphic work, and paired verses have been written in smaller script all around the border. On this page, all the verses are about the beauty of—and longing for—the beloved.
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