In her extensive study on Veneto-Saracenic metalwork, Sylvia Auld has recorded 64 incense-burners of this shape (Sylvia Auld, Renaissance Venice, Islam, and Mahmud the Kurd - a Metalworking Enigma, London, 2004, pp.108-40). Although often thought to be incense-burners, these spheres may have been used as hand-warmers. Many references in mediaeval European inventories indicate that they were very much appreciated and used in various contexts by clerics or as objets de vertu. The decoration of the upper bowl of our incense burner closely relates to that of a 15th century sphere in the British Museum (Rachel Ward, Islamic Metalwork, London, 1993, cat.92). According to Auld's classification, this sphere belongs to the group A which is "typically late Mamluk" and was probably manufactured in Syria or Egypt. The lower bowl of the sphere, which comes from another incense burner also from the group A, is similar to a sphere in the Museo Civico Medioevale in Bologna (Sylvia Auld, op.cit., cat.1.6).