Canteen; a pit in one side and a strainer inside the neck; handles probably later additions (Brass). Decoration executed in silver inlay, with details engraved; the designs of both Christian and Islamic origin. Inscriptions written in Kufic and in naskhi scripts.

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Historical period(s)
Ayyubid period, mid-13th century
Brass, silver inlay
H x W (overall): 45.2 x 36.7 cm (17 13/16 x 14 7/16 in)
Syria or Northern Iraq
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Freer Gallery 04: Engaging the Senses
Metalwork, Vessel


Ayyubid period (1171 - 1250), birth, child, Christianity, cow, halo, Iraq, Jesus Christ, kufic script, naskh script, Syria, Virgin Mary, washing

To 1845
Prince Filippo Andrea Doria, Italy to 1845 [1]

To at least 1934
George A. Eumorfopoulos (1863-1939), London [2]

To 1941
Hagop Kevorkian (1872-1962), New York [3]

From 1941
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from Hagop Kevorkian, New York in 1941 [4]


[1] See M. Lanci, Trattato delle Simboliche Rappresentanze Arabiche, vol. II, pp. 141-3145 and vol. III, pls. XLV-XLVI, Nos. A, B, and 1-2. Also refer to Curatorial Remark 4 in the object record.

[2] According to Dimand, M., "A Silver Inlaid Bronze Canteen with Christian Subjects in the Eumorfopoulos Collection," Ars Islamica, vol. 1, no. 1 (1934), pp. 16-21. As of the publication of this article by M. S. Dimand, the canteen was still in the George Eumorfopoulos Collection.

[3] Curatorial Remark 1 in the object record. For additional information, see Freer Gallery of Art Purchase List file, Collections Management Office.

[4] See note 3.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Prince Filippo Andrea Doria
George Aristedes Eumorfopoulos 1863-1939
Hagop Kevorkian 1872-1962


Canteen; a pit in one side and a strainer inside the neck; handles probably later additions (Brass). Decoration executed in silver inlay, with details engraved; the designs of both Christian and Islamic origin. Inscriptions written in Kufic and in naskhi scripts.


Inscriptions written in Kufic and in naskhi scripts.


This large, impressive canteen, the only known example of its kind from the Islamic world, recalls the shape of ceramic pilgrim flasks.  Its inlaid silver decoration combines calligraphy and decorative motifs, such as intricate geometric designs, and lively animal scrolls, with Christian imagery.  These include a representation of the Virgin and Child in the center, surrounded by narrative scenes from the life of Christ as well as saints and knights.  It has been suggested that the canteen may have been commissioned by a wealthy Christian, perhaps, as a special memento of his travels.

Published References
  • Michelangelo Lanci. Trattato delle simboliche rappresentanze arabiche e della varia generazione de' musulmani caratteri sopra differenti materie operati. 3 vols., Parigi, Italy. vol. 2: pp. 141-145, pls. 45, 46.
  • Annemarie Schimmel. Calligraphy and Islamic Culture. Hagop Kevorkian Series on Near Eastern Art and Civilization New York, 1983 - 1984. opp. p. 76.
  • Freer Gallery of Art. Gallery Book I: Exhibition of December 1941. Washington. .
  • James Wasserman, Steven Brooke, Vere Chappell. An Illustrated History of the Knights Templar. Rochester, Vermont. fig. 15.7.
  • Treasure House of the Middle East. vol. 8, no. 19 Beirut, May 9, 1957. front cover.
  • Dr. John Alexander Pope. The History of Ming Porcelain: A Lecture on the Occasion of the 1st Presentation of the Hills Gold Medal, June 9th, 1971. Hills Gold Medal Lecture London. pl. 7b.
  • David Nicolle. Islamic Arms and Armour. London. fig. 181.
  • Robert L. Hobson, W. Perceval Yetts. The George Eumorfopoulos Collection of Chinese, Corean, and Persian Pottery and Porcelain. 6 vols., London. .
  • David J. Roxburgh. Turks: A Journey of a Thousand Years, 600-1600. London and New York. fig. 24.
  • Eva Baer. Ayyubid Metalwork with Christian Images. Studies in Islamic Art and Architecture Leiden and New York. .
  • , Eva Baer, David Nicolle, Barbara Schmitz, Oliver Watson. The Art of the Saljuqs in Iran and Anatolia. Costa Mesa, California. fig. 264, 16A-B.
  • Richard Ettinghausen. Studies in Muslim Iconography I: The Unicorn. vol. 1, no. 3 Washington. pl. 3.
  • Doris Behrens-Abouseif. The Baptiste de Saint Louis: A Reinterpretation. vol. 3 New York. pp. 4, 12, fig. 6.
  • R. L. Devonshire. Moslem Objects in the Eumorfopoulos Collection. vol. 5, no. 25 London, January 1927. pp. 12-17, figs. 3, 4.
  • M.S. Dimand. A Silver Inlaid Bronze Canteen with Christian Subjects in the Eumorfopoulos Collection. vol. 1, no. 1 Ann Arbor, 1934. pp. 16-21, pls. 1, 2, 3.
  • Atif Toor. Islamic Culture. Discovering the Arts Vero Beach, Florida. p. 16.
  • Sotheby's (London). The Eumorfopoulos Collections: Catalogue of the Collection of Persian ceramics & Islamic glass, Egyptian, Greek and Roman Antiquities, Choice Medieval & Renaissance Works of Art. London, 1940. no. 72, p. 24.
  • , Eric Delpont, Aurelie Fauret, Yannis Koikas. L'Orient de Saladin: L'Art des Ayyoubides. Exh. cat. Paris, October 23, 2001 - March 10, 2002. pp. 27, 126.
  • Jules Leroy. Un Flabellum Syriaque date du Deir Souriani, Egypte. vol. 5/6 Mariemont, 1974-1975. pp. 31-39, fig. 3.
  • Mohammed Mostafa. Darstellung des taglichen Lebens in der islamischen Kunst. vol. 2 Vienna. p. 40, fig. 28.
  • George Hill. The Eumorfopoulos Collection. vol. 76, no. 447 London, June 1940. p. 43.
  • Christianity and Islam. Christian Reflection: A Series in Faith and Ethics, 15 Waco, Texas. p. 46.
  • Dagny Carter. Four Thousand Years of China's Art. New York. pp. 48-9.
  • Ranee A. Katzenstein, Glenn D. Lowry. Christian Themes in Thirteenth-Century Islamic Metalwork. vol. 1 Leiden, 1983. pp. 54, 57, pl. 6, 7.
  • Mehmet Aga-Oglu. Exhibition of Islamic Art. Exh. cat. San Francisco, February 24 - March 22, 1937. p. 56, no. 191, pl. 47.
  • Calendar of Exhibitions. vol. 16, no. 8 Hong Kong, August 1985. p. 56.
  • Dr. Esin Atil. Islamic Art in the Freer Gallery. vol. 3, no. 3, Autumn 1985. p. 59, fig. 5.
  • Islamic Art and Archaeology: Collected Papers. Berlin. pp. 69, 79, 217, 735, pls. 9, 10.
  • Dr. Esin Atil. Art of the Arab World. Exh. cat. Washington, 1975. cat. 28, p. 69.
  • The Radiant Ming 1368-1644. Hong Kong. p. 88.
  • Wang Mei-sheng. Yongle qinghua si Xicheng [Blue-and-white Porcelains of the Yongle Reign Conferred Upon Western Regions]. no. 38 Taipei, May 1986. p. 105.
  • Alicia Walker. Cross-cultural Reception in the Absence of Texts: The Islamic Appropriation of a Middle Byzantine Rosette Casket. vol. 47/2, 2008 New York. p. 105, fig. 10.
  • Fu Shen, Glenn D. Lowry, Ann Yonemura, Thomas Lawton. From Concept to Context: Approaches to Asian and Islamic Calligraphy. Exh. cat. Washington. p. 108, fig. 12.
  • Dr. Esin Atil, W. Thomas Chase, Paul Jett. Islamic Metalwork in the Freer Gallery of Art. Washington, 1985. cat. 17, pp. 124-125.
  • Bas Ter Haar Romeny. Eastern Christian Art in its Late Antique and Islamic Contexts. Eastern Christian Art Leuven, Belgium. p. 128.
  • Ideals of Beauty: Asian and American Art in the Freer and Sackler Galleries. Thames and Hudson World of Art London and Washington, 2010. pp. 134-135.
  • Laura Schnieder. Freer Canteen. vol. 9 Washington and Ann Arbor. pp. 137-156, pl. 1, figs. 1-3.
  • Oppi Untracht. Metal Techniques for Craftsmen: A Basic Manual for Craftsmen on the Methods of Forming and Decorating Metals., 1st ed. Garden City. p. 151.
  • Randall L. Pouwels. African and Middle Eastern World, 600-1500. The Medieval and Early Modern World New York. p. 159.
  • Kristen Chiem, Cynthia S. Colburn. Global Foundations for a World Art History. vol. 31, nos. 3,4 Abingdon, United Kingdom, September - December 2015. p. 186, fig. 6.
  • Jose Pijoan. Arte Islamico. vol. 12, Summa artis, historia general del arte, 1st ed. Madrid. pp. 194-195, figs. 258-261.
  • Arabic and Islamic Studies in Honor of Hamilton A.R. Gibb. Cambridge, Massachusetts and Leiden. pp. 211-224, pl. 2.
  • October Events at the Smithsonian: Smithsonian Highlights. vol. 16, no. 7 Washington, October 1985. p. 225.
  • Richard Ettinghausen, Archibald Gibson Wenley. Aus der Welt der Islamischen Kunst: Festschrift fur Ernst Kuhnel. Berlin. pp. 229, 359, 361.
  • Eva Baer. Metalwork in Medieval Islamic Art. Albany. p. 242, fig. 198.
  • Central Periphery? Art, Culture and History of the Medieval Jazira (Northern Mesopotamia, 8th-15th centuries). Germany. p. 254, fig. 5.
  • The Arts of Persia. New Haven and London. p. 309, fig. 10.
  • Yousif Mahmud Ghulam. The Art of Arabic Calligraphy., 2nd rev. ed. Lafayette, California. pp. 340-379.
  • Edwards Park. Treasures from the Smithsonian Institution., 1st ed. Washington and New York. p. 344.
  • Richard Ettinghausen, O. Graber. The Art and Architecture of Islam, 650-1250. The Pelican History of Art Hammondsworth, United Kingdom and New York. p. 371.
  • Christopher Hussey. Safeguarding National Treasures. vol. 122, no. 2911 London, October 1952. p. 1389.
Collection Area(s)
Arts of the Islamic World
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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