The inscriptions around the neck contain sayings of the Prophet (hadith): 'he who argues for the good is as one who performs it' and 'actions are qualified by intentions'. Below the neck the band contains a quatrain addressed to the cup-bearer (saqi). The bands around the middle of the body contain lines of a Persian ode (ghazal).
This is the earliest of this well-known small group of jugs to have been published, being dated five years earlier than the example (lacking handle and lid) in the Museum für Islamische Kunst, Berlin (inv. no.I3606). The form derives from Persian prototypes of the medieval period. A Khorassan jug of this form, now on loan to the Brooklyn Museum, dates from the thirteenth century (Katz no.65, p.36), while a similar Fars brass jug, originally inlaid with figural scenes and dating from the end of the fourteenth century, is in Berlin (Islamische Kunst, no.212). All other examples have cylindrical slightly spreading feet, usually inscribed with the maker's name and date within this, flanking or on the central depression. The greatest variance from the normal shape is shown in this example with its three cast drop-shaped feet, rather than the cylindrical foot that is usually found.
The decoration of this jug is very similar to the other earliest known examples, the Berlin jug already mentioned, and the jug in the Victoria and Albert Museum dated five years later (Melikian-Chirvani, no.109, pp248-250). The principal decoration of each is inscription bands. Here and in the Victoria and Albert example the body has two equal bands, while the Berlin jug has a single band of similar scale to those around the neck of all three. Later examples increase the floral and interlace repertoire, reducing the inscriptions to small bands, a single roundel under the base, or even to the extent of no inscription at all.
Katz, L.: Asian Art form the Collection of Ernest Erikson and the Ericson Foundation, exhibition catalogue, New York, 1963
Melikian-Chirvani, A.S.: Islamic Metalwork from the Iranian World, London, 1982
Islamische Kunst, Verborgene Schätze, exhibition catalogue, Berlin, 1986