The bulbous jug with vertical mouth and dragon handle is a Timurid archetype. The earliest Timurid example of the form is the white jade jug made for Ulugh Beg (1420-1449), now in the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon (Thomas W. Lentz and Glenn D. Lowry, Timur and the Princely Vision, exhibition catalogue, Los Angeles and Washington D.C, 1989, fig.46, p.144). From the middle of the fifteenth century onwards brass examples of the same form were produced, covered with intricate silver and gold overlay. There are around 30 published examples in museums around the world, and a small number of others that have appeared on the market. They have been studied in some detail, notably by Linda Komaroff in her work on Timurid Metalwork (Linda Komaroff, The Golden Disk of Heaven, Metalwork of Timurid Iran, Costa Mesa, California and New York, 1992). As a group they are particularly interesting in that a considerable number of them are signed and/or dated. The dates range from AH 861/1456-57 AD (an example in the Museum für islamische Kunst, Berlin; Komaroff no.3, pp.153-155) through into the Safavid period as is shown by the black jade example made for Shah Isma’il Safavi (Lentz and Lowry, op.cit., fig. 102, p.310 amongst many other publications). The latest dated brass example is in the David Collection, Copenhagen, dating from Jumada II AH 819/August-September 1512 AD (https://www.davidmus.dk/en/collections/islamic/dynasties/timurids-and-turkmen/art/34-1986).
Their usual attribution to Herat is on the basis of the form being known to have been popular with the Timurid rulers, to the fact that the nisbahs of the makers are almost invariably from that area and on two brass jugs inscribed with verses praising Sultan Husayn [Baiqara] (r.1469-1506). One is in the British Museum (1962.7-18.1; Komaroff op.cit., no.12, pp.178-80; Lentz and Lowry, op.cit., no.151, pp.273 and 360), the other sold at Sotheby’s (11 October 1989, lot 99, pp.42-3).
Many are inscribed, as here, with one or two bands of verses around the belly and neck. Many of these verses are repeated. Most are poetical, as here, appropriate to the drinking of wine from the jug, with the favourite poets being Qasim Anwar and Hafiz. Verses from Daqiqi and even Firdowsi are also found (A.S.Melikian-Chirvani, Islamic Metalwork from the Iranian World, London, 1982, no.123, pp.287-8).
Each jug is slightly different in decorative layout, the designers playing with similar motifs to create different effects. While one can group the earliest ones as a subgroup with their large continuous inscriptions around the neck, it is less easy to divide those dating from 1480-1512 in terms of style. The drawing of some has a distinctly spiky feel, such as that in the Nuhad es-Said Collection, now in the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha (James Allan, Islamic Metalwork, the Nuhad es Said Collection, London, 1982, no.25, pp.110-113), as does the latest dated example of the series, that in the David Collection noted above. Others, including the present jug, have a fuller drawing with subsidiary engraving on the individual inlaid small pieces of silver. Dated examples with similar execution are that in the Berlin Museum of Islamic Art, dated AH 910/1505 AD (I.6052; Komaroff, op.cit., no.13), and that in the British Museum, London, dated AH 917/1511 AD or possibly AH 919/1513 AD which would actually make it later than the David Collection example (78 12.30.732; Sheila Canby and Jon Thompson (eds), The Hunt for Paradise, Arts of Iran 1501-1575, Milan and New York, 2003, no.8.6, pp.210-211). Others are those in the Bargello (Marco Spallanzano, Islamic Metalwork from the Grand Ducal Collection, Florence, 1981, no.3, pp.13-16 and cover illustration), and another in the British Museum (78 12.30.731; Komaroff, op.cit., no.11, pp.176-178). Of all of these the present example is probably closest to the dated British Museum example, indicating that it was probably made towards the end of the sequence in the early 16th century.