This rare double-shelled ewer imitates in ceramic the Seljuk metalwork techniques of openwork decoration, a masterpiece in the annals of pottery production.

A pierced outer shell representing deer, sphinxes, and human-headed birds covers a solid inner shell designed to hold the liquid contents. Inscriptions and willow leaves encircle the lower body and neck, above which rises a rooster’s head with an open crest to receive liquid and a pierced beak for pouring. The rooster, perhaps identified here as the Simurgh (a magical being able to protect against evil), in this case possibly was intended to guard the owner of the ewer from poison.
Artist Islamic, Iranian
Title
  • Ewer with Rooster Head
Date ca.1200
Medium Under-glaze slip-painted fritware
Dimensions Overall: 10 3/4 × 6 3/4 × 6 inches (27.3 × 17.1 × 15.2 cm)
Credit Line Founders Society Purchase with funds from Founders Junior Council, Henry Ford II Fund, Benson and Edith Ford Fund, J. Lawrence Buell, Jr. Fund
Accession Number 1989.34
Department Islamic Art
On View Islamic N120, Level 1 (see map)
(Said Motamed, Frankfurt, Germany);
1989-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
Bulletin of the DIA 65, no. 2/3, 1989, p. 9, fig. 6, (ill).

Henshaw, Julia P., ed. A Visitors Guide: The Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, 1995, p. 123 (ill.)