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Antique early Islamic Seljuk bronze mirror, Eastern Anatolia, 12-13 c CE

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Seller: ukr10 (703) 100%, Location: Clearwater Beach, Florida, Ships to: Worldwide, Item: 180963887354 Antique early Islamic bronze mirror with 2 symmetrical sphinxes and inscriptions around Weight: 8 oz. =220 g Diameter: 4.25” inches = 10.6 cm = 106 mm Knob: 7 mm with hole, open all the way through Provenance: from the collection of Engish gentleman by inheritance in UK; acquired before 1990 Condition: old natural patina all over Language: we are still doing research on the language. Opinions of eBay members are welcome. Below is opinion of eBay memember. Thank you Greg! And in response to your posted comments, the Arabic is K u f i c script, which used on this piece would be Seljuk period in Central Asia, about 12th-13th centuries (K u f i c was used in Fatimid, Seljuk, Abbasid, Umayyad periods, basically Early Islamic Period, but fell out of fashion circa 1200). Also it is a mirror back, not a mirror. There are similar pieces in some other museum collections aside from the ones you listed. And they are harpies not sphinxes. Also I can't read the inscription well from the photo but it seems to be a benediction or well wishes to the owner. Hope this info helps. greg We found similar mirrors only in 3 famous museums around the world: 1) Louvre, Paris, France 2) LACMA, Los Angeles, USA 3) State Historical Museum, Moscow, Russia Similar mirror, but damaged and with different shape of knob, is for sale at Barakat Gallery, Los Angeles for $6000. http://www.barakatgallery.com/store/index.cfm/FuseAction/ItemDetails/UserID/0/CFID/76239398/CFTOKEN/2f087d93039bbae3-E73BBDE0-3048-33BC-FCF6708EB3386B34/jsessionid/8430d3037a64572fa7c41b602c3172b4b284/CategoryID/69/SubCategoryID/931/ItemID/4632.htm Below is an opinion-reflection on Seljuk mirror of eBay member itzamnah: I have spent the evening doing a comparative analysis of the casting of the various mirrors that you provide as examples of this mirror, and while all share much in common the one that most closely matches yours is the one from Barakat Galleries. The texts of both are almost identical, and the characters are positioned at almost the exact same places around the central images. Your texts, I believe will be more distinct than the Barakat example if professionally cleaned. The Barakat mirror shows some evidence of tiring in the master that the mould was made from. Yours however, does not, and thus the pour has produced crisper details and differentiations. The two are so similar in style, detail, text and positioning that I believe that they must have originated at the same time, and place, and from the same makers shop. While they are very similar, they are not from the same mould or mould master. I would respectfully disagree with both your designation (and Greg?s) of the identity of the two opposing central figures. I believe that these are the female faced depiction of the Simurgh, not the Sphinx, and not the Harpy. She (mirror) seemed to confirm that the two figures that grace her face are not sphinx (as the Harvard museum labels them) nor Harpies (as ‘greg’ believes), but much more impressive and rare figures of the ancient Simurgh- a mythical beast that far pre-dates Islam- the same beast that raised Zal, father of the hero Rostam, from the epic Shahnama of Ferdowsi. Ferdowsi had access to ancient texts that long predated Islam, and used them for the sources of information for his epic Book of Kings. These works disappeared in the onslaught of the Mongols, which came only a century later. Our only glimpse into these works is now Ferdowsi’s masterwork, and in it lives the Simurgh. If I am correct, that the Seljuks (at approximately the same time as Ferdowsi) were still enchanted by images and stories of the Simurgh, than this small mirror of yours opens another window to a time before Islam, and to the same sources that Ferdowsi had access to. It becomes another surviving, previously unknown, pre-Islamic source. She also seems to hint that the Simurgh was perhaps a pair, rather than a singular entity- a twin of sorts, not unlike your Seljuk mirror and the Baraka Galleries mirror. I hope that this is of some help.Itzamnah Thank you Itzamnah for your deep reflections. Sassanid silver plate of a simurgh (Sēnmurw), 7-8th c. CEReferences http://depts.washington.edu/silkroad/museums/ml/saljuq.html http://depts.washington.edu/silkroad/museums/gim/steppe.html Mirror with symmetrical sphinxes. Khorasan or Anatolia, 12th-13th c. CE. Cast bronze. Dia. 11.2 cm. Inv. no. OA 3945. Website. Cf. almost identical mirror found in Volga Bulgaria in the collection of the State Historical Museum, Moscow. Also, cf. LACMA Inv. no. http://www.caroun.com/calligraphy/acalligraphygeneral/kufic/kuficscript.html Kufic script is derived from "Hijazi Script", whose origin may in order be traced to "Hirian", "Nebtian" or "Anbarian". Available petrography and existing documents, which belong to 7th century AD, indicate that in different kinds of irregular arabesque writing, Naskh and Kufic scripts, have been carelessly used and no rule or method was officially proposed to follow. The object has been only restricted to recording of written materials and their concepts, without paying attention to the elegance and artistic issues, which would have enriched those handwritings. Such samples could be found in some available inscriptions on stone and in a few documents as well. But, when calligraphy was employed in the service of Islam for writing Koran, it entirely got changed and gradually paced in the path of perfection from viewpoint and aspect of art and elegance. Its first style of Islamic period writing, in which the manifestation of art, delicacy and beauty are explicitly evident, is that of Kufic Script. As, it was developed in the city of Kufa, it is called "Kufic". During the first three centuries of Islamic period (7th-9th century AD), Koran was practically written and recorded with Kufic script, while calligraphers of every zone used to use their personal style and taste in this sort of handwriting. The nibs of their pens might have been different from one another, or the tendency of vertical ribs of the letters towards left and right sides, together with some other invented differences exerted in the chosen letters, might have been characterized the style and place of writing. Thus, various ways of inscribing letters, like those of Kufic, Madani, Basri, Shami (Syrian) and Maqrebi scripts came into existence. In spite of all these differences, so long as using of Kufic script, uses particularly restricted to Arabian peninsula, no significant changes appeared in the original forms of this handwriting. In fact, Kufic script could be known as the first and earliest calligraphy, used in writing many copies of Koran, which are still found here and there. http://www.ancientscripts.com/arabic.html Due to the influence of Islam, the Arabic alphabet is one of the most widespread writing systems in the world, found in large parts of Africa and Western and Central Asia, as well as in ethnic communities in East Asia, Europe, and the Americas. While originally used to write the Arabic language, the Arabic alphabet has been adopted by other groups to write their own languages, such as Persian, Pashto, Urdu, and more. Although Arabic inscriptions are most common after the birth of Islam (7th century CE), the origin of the Arabic alphabet lies deeper in time. The Nabataeans, which established a kingdom in what is modern-day Jordan from the 2nd century BCE, were Arabs. They wrote with a highly cursive Aramaic-derived alphabet that would eventually evolve into the Arabic alphabet. The Nabataeans endured until the year 106 CE, when they were conquered by the Romans, but Nabataean inscriptions continue to appear until the 4th century CE, coinciding with the first inscriptions in the Arabic alphabet (which is also found in Jordan). Generally speaking, there are two variants to the Arabic alphabet: Kufic and Naskhi. The Kufic script is angular, which was most likely a product of inscribing on hard surfaces such as wood or stone, while the Naskhi script is much more cursive. The Kufic script appears to be the older of the scripts, as it was common in the early history of Islam, and used for the earliest copies of the Qu'ran. The following is an example of the Kufic script. This is part of a commemorative tablet dating to the 11th century CE and found in Toledo, Spain (which was controlled by Arabs at that time). By the 11th century CE, the Naskhi script appeared and gradually replaced the Kufic script as the most popular script for copying the Qu'ran as well as secular and personal writings. It is from the Naskhi script that modern Arabic script style developed. The following is the Arabic alphabet in the Naskhi script. One interesting feature of Arabic is the multiple forms of a single letter. Depending on where in a word a letter appears, it could appear as an initial form (beginning of word), final form (end of word), or medial form (anywhere else). In addition, if the word has only one letter, than the isolated form is used. Like other Proto-Sinaitic-derived scripts, Arabic doesn't have letters for vowels. However, there is a system to marking vowels. Short vowels are represented by diacritics above or below a letter (see below). Long vowels are represented by using the short-vowel diacritics plus the letters alif, wa:w, ya: to represent the sounds [a:], [u:], and [i:], respectively. (Note that in the following example, the big dot is not a diacritic but is part of the letter nun) In addition to the vowel markers, Arabic also has several other diacritics. The hamza, which looks like C, denotes the glottal stop (the letter alif used to represent the glottal stop, but has become more of a placeholder for vowel-initial words). The hamza requires a "seat" letter (such as alif but also wa:w and ya:) to anchor onto. Another diacritic is the suku:n, which looks like a circle and is placed on top of a letter to denote the absense of any vowel. Finally, the diacritic shadda, which resembles W, represents the doubling of a consonant. And finally, Arabic uses a 10-base positional number system: The Asian (Asir..) sphinx looked quite different from the Egyptian one. It had a human head, wings, and the parts of a bull and a lion. Sometimes it had five legs instead of the usual four. Anatolia, Medieval and Renaissance Periods After the division of the Roman Empire, Anatolia became part of the East Roman, or Byzantine Empire. Byzantine control was challenged by Arab raids starting in the 7th century (see Byzantine–Arab Wars), but in the 9th and 10th century a resurgent Byzantine Empire regained its lost territories and even expanded beyond its traditional borders, into Armenia and Syria (ancient Aram). In the 10 years following the Battle of Manzikert in 1071, the Seljuk Turks from Central Asia established themselves over large areas of Anatolia, with particular concentrations around the north western rim. The Turkish language and the Islamic religion were gradually introduced as a result of the Seljuk conquest, and this period marks the start of Anatolia's slow transition from predominantly Christian and Indo-European and Semitic-speaking, to predominantly Muslim and Turkish-speaking (Although some ethnic groups such as Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians and Georgians retained Christianity and their native languages). In the following century, the Byzantines managed to reassert their control in Western and Northern Anatolia. Control of Anatolia was then split between the Byzantine Empire and the Seljuk Sultanate of Rûm, with the Byzantine holdings gradually being reduced. In 1255, the Mongols swept through eastern and central Anatolia, and would remain until 1335. The Ilkhanate garrison was stationed near Ankara. By the end of the 14th century, most of Anatolia was controlled by various Anatolian beyliks. The Turkmen Beyliks were under the control of the Mongols, at least nominally, through declining Seljuk Sultans. The Beyliks did not mint coins in the names of their own leaders while they remained under the suzerainty of the Mongol Ilkhanids. The Osmanli ruler Osman I was the first Turkish ruler who minted coins in his own name in 1320s, for it bears the legend "Minted by Osman son of Ertugul". Since the minting of coins was a prerogative accorded in Islamic practice only to a sovereign, it can be considered that Osmanli became independent of the Mongol Khans. After the decline of the Ilkhanate from 1335–1353, the Mongol Empire's legacy in the region was the Uyghur Eretna Dynasty that was overthrown by Kadi Burhan al-Din in 1381. Among the Turkmen leaders the Ottomans emerged as great power under Osman and his son Orhan I. Smyrna was conquered in 1330 AD, and the last Byzantine possession, Philadélphia (modern Alaşehir), fell in 1390 AD. The Anatolian beyliks were in turn absorbed into the rising Ottoman Empire during the 15th century. The Ottomans completed the conquest of the peninsula in 1517 with the taking of Halicarnassus (modern Bodrum) from the Knights of Saint John. Condition: old natural patina all over, no defects

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