Lot 168. A Kashan underglaze-decorated pottery aquamanile in the form of a bull, Persia, early 13th century. Estimate 20,000 — 30,000 GBP. Photo: Sotheby's.

composed of fritware, made in a mould in the shape of a bull, painted in underglaze cobalt blue and black with stylised birds amidst foliate motifs, with an inscriptive band around body, short spout on back, with handle leading to head with tall curved horns, mouth designed as large circular opening, on four straight legs; 20.7 by 17 by 7.5cm. 

inscriptions: I wish you were a place of repose’, a Persian verse from a quatrain of ‘Umar Khayyam repeated. .

NoteA large number of human and zoomorphic pottery figures were made in Syria and Persia, particularly in Raqqa and Kashan, during the twelfth and thirteenth century. The presence of openings on the back and through the muzzle of this delicate bull figurine points towards a Persian attribution (Gibson 2012, p.28). The combination of different tones of blue and black, combined with dense scrolls and dotted patterns, recalls a group of plates attributed to Kashan, probably Sultanabad (Watson 2004, p.373).

For similar examples of ceramic bulls standing on four cylindrical legs on a square base see inv.no LOAN:ADES.8 in the Victoria and Albert Museum; Watson 1985, pp.117-8; inv.no. EA1992.106 in the Ashmolean Museum and Grube 1976, p.233.

Sotheby's. Arts of the Islamic World, London, 26 Apr 2017, 10:30 AM