Seljuk Iranian jewelry

christiesseljukbracelets This pair of bracelets are from between the 11th to 13th century. They have a diametre of 6.8cm and are made from braided gold wire with a centralised pin with niello arabesque vines. They were sold by Christies for $15,920 (£10,000).

christiesseljukring This ring was thought to have been made between the 12th to 13th century. It is gold decorated with palmettes inlaid with niello, with five claws. The inscription on the seal is “Paying heed to eternity is sufficient to gain everlasting life” and has a height of 2.5 cm. It was sold by Christies for $2,932 (£2,000).

metseljukroundel This 11th century gold roundel is made of filigree with granulation. It has a diametre of 7.1 cm and was thought to have been either clothing or head gear adornment. It would have also been inset with stones. It is currently in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

metseljukhairornament This 12th to 13th century hair ornament was made from gold sheet engraved and decorated with gold wire and granulation over a copper inner sleeve. It is 7 cm long and 2.1 cm wide. It is currently in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

metseljukbirdearring This gold earring was thought to have been made between the 12th and 13th century. It is gold filigree with granulation. It is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Recommended reading
Gifts and Gift Exchange as Aspects of the Byzantine, Arab, and Related Economies by Anthony Cutler. JStor article.

Near Eastern Jewelry and Metalwork by Maurice S. Dimand. JStor article.

Islamic Jewelry in The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Jenkins, Marilyn, and Manuel Keene. A Metropolitan Museum of Art book available for pdf download.

More Islamic amulets

Digital Capture This is a brass amulet from Ghaznavid ruled Persia in the 10th century. The amulet is pierced and incised brass which is 2.4 cm in diametre. It is in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

neilloamulet10thcentiran This amulet case is silver inlaid with black niello and made between the 10th-11th century in Samanid ruled Iran. The niello is in curlicue and kufic inscription. The inscription is a blessing for a man named Hasan ibn Ahmad, probably the owner of the case. It would have held a verse of the Qur’an. The size is 4.6 cm by 4.3 cm by 1.2 cm. The amulet is in the the David Collection.

seljukamuletcase12thcent This amulet case is from the early 12th century Seljuk Empire. It is 3.4 cm wide, made of gold and decorated by repoussé with a kufic inscription. It was sold by Christies for £5,875 ($9,306).

ghuridamuletcase12thcent This case is also gold decorated by repoussé but from north-east Iran ruled the Ghurid Dynasty. It is 4.5 cm wide, with a kufic inscription al-mulk li’llah or ‘Sovreignty is God’s’. It was sold by Christies for £16,100 ($32,764).

The cases would have held text from the Qur’an such as-
quranscroll14thcent This scroll is from the 14th century to be kept in a case. It is 755 cm long and 10 cm wide. It contains 114 chapters of the Qur’an (or suras) as well as the 99 names of Allah. It is in the David Collection.

Recommended reading
Islamic Jewelry in the Metropolitan Museum of Art by Marilyn Jenkins & Manuel Keene. Via Google Books.

Please see the previous post Islamic amulets for more recommended reading.

Two Seljuk Persian statues

This stucco statue is thought to be from an Iranian palace (unsure where) with similar statues found in audience chambers in palaces in Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. The statue was made from the mid 11th-12th centuries out of carved, painted and gilded stucco. The height is 119.4 cm, the width 52.1 cm and the statue weighs 77.1 kg. The statue wears a crown and a large saber, so it is possible it is representative of a royal. The statue’s clothing is an embellished coat over a robe, with tiraz bands on each arm. The loose translation for the left arm is worshiper for the believers and the right arm translates to he returns/belongs to the believers. The statue is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This second statue is from the same palace complex and time period as the first statue. Also made of carved, painted and gilded stucco in the mid 11th-12th centuries, the statue is 143.5 cm high, 51.5 cm wide and weighs 198.2 kg. The statue is wearing a robe with an elaborate coat, also with tiraz bands on each arm. However, there is no translation of these. If you do know the translation or can read them, please let me know. The statue is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Recommended reading
The Art of the Seljuqs of Iran (ca. 1040–1157) from the Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History.
Arab Painting: Text and Image in Illustrated Arab Manuscripts by Anna Contadini. Via Google Books.
Islamic Art by Richard Ettinghausen. JStor article.
The Flowering of Seljuq Art by Richard Ettinghausen. JStor article.

Nasreddin Hodja

Nasreddin was thought to have lived in the 13th century, with many stories about him. He was thought to have been born in the Eskişehir Province in Seljuq controlled Anatolia. He is a satirical figure, being a Sufi wise man and the butt of many jokes. The famous story of Nasreddin and his donkey-

One day Nasreddin Hodja got on his donkey the wrong way, facing towards the back.
– “Hodja,” the people said, “You are sitting on your donkey backwards!”
– “No,” he replied. “It’s not that I am sitting on the donkey backwards, the donkey is facing the wrong way.”

Many stories have been amalgamated into stories of Juha, a 9th century Arabic trickster, so much that the names have been swapped around. There are many quotes attributed to Nasreddin on Wikiquote and there are many stories available to read retold by D. L. Ashliman.
Bibliography
The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Folktales and Fairy Tales by Donald Haase. Via Google Books.
Tales of Juha:
classic Arab folk humor
by Salma Khadra Jayyusi, Matthew R. Sorenson, Faisal Khadra. I recommend borrowing this one from a library.
Tales of the Hoja by John Noonan. From Saudi Aramco World.
A Man of Many Names by Paul Lunde. From Saudi Aramco World.

Seljuk Jewelry

These are two thick gold hoop earrings are from 12th century Iran. They are thick gold wire, which ends in a dragon’s head. The dragon’s eyes are set with turquoise and the other stones are citrine. The earrings are 5cm high. They were sold by Christie’s for £500 or $879.
This bracelet is from 11th century Iran. Constructed using a sheet of gold made into a tube with tapering ends, rolled back and a granulated hinge. It has a diametre of 7cm. The bracelet was sold by Chrisite’s for £1,188 or $1,829.
This is a silver ring with a silver bezel featuring a lion. The lion was symbolic of the Seljuk power. The lion is in profile, rearing up, surrounded by curliques. The bezel has a 1.9cm diametre and the ring itself 8.5cm. The ring was sold by Christie’s for $8,400.
These are 11th century wire beads from Iran. They are basketform, with three of them with granulated decoration. The granulated set are 1.5cm long and the round are 1.7cm long. They were sold by Christie’s for £625 or $999.
This belt is from 12th century Iran or Anatolia. It is made up of alternating four shaped stepped gold beads with three red carnelians, three tapering pyramidal rectangular beads set with emeralds, larger beads divided by cartouche-shaped panels each set with two pearls and two turquoises and the ends of the belt are made of shaped larger panels similar to the cartouche panels. There is a stylised kufic inscription, which reads- al-mulk, li’llah al-wahid, al-sa’ada, al-sa’id, al-za’id wa, al-baqa li-sahibihi which translates to Sovereignty is God’s, the One. Rising increasing Happiness and Long-life to its owner. The belt is 59cm long and had been fixed some time ago with some bronze links. It was sold by Christie’s for £61,250 or $94,386.

Seljuk candle stick


This candle stick from the mid 13th century was made from cast bronze inlaid with silver, height: 20.5cm and diameter 19.5 cm. The writing wishes for good fortunes for it’s owner and is decorated with sphinxes, wolves, griffins, horse riders, musicians and a dancer.

At the top of the candle stick, the kufic inscriptions become human faces.

Currently in the David Collection.

Seljuk dancers


This jar was made in Iran, thought to be 12th-13th century, during the Seljuq Empire. The jar is fritware, with a turquoise glaze over moulded decorations of hexagonal compartments, featuring camel riders, dancers, seated people and horsemen. The lid is a 19th century addition. Height: 78 cm, diameter: 47 cm, weight: 28 kg. Currently in the Victoria & Albert Museum.

The ewer was also made in Iran in the 13th century out of moulded fritware, but with a colbolt and turquoise glaze. This decoration has linked dancers around the main body of the ewer, with scroll work and animals such as lions, deer and hares over the rest of the ewer. The height is 32.3cm and is unfortunately missing the handle. Sold by Christies for £361,250 ($588,115).