Beggar’s Bowl (Kashkul)

Accession Number: 
AKM612
Place: 
Iran
Dimensions: 
Length 61 cm
Date: 
late 16th century
Materials and Technique: 
Engraved brass

This beautifully engraved beggar’s bowl (kashkul) is a ceremonial object that would have had pride of place in a Sufi lodge (khanqah). Kashkuls were used by wandering mystics who renounced their worldly possessions and subsisted on collecting alms. The bowl’s elongated form and its related symbolic function derived from the Pre-Islamic Iranian tradition’s wine boat. The nasta‘liq inscription below the rim contains allegorical Persian verses about the Prophet Muhammad, ‘Ali, and the friends of God, generally referring to the Sufi mystics.