The naskh inscription around this dish is an incomplete address in the name of the dish itself - a feature not uncommon in Mamluk metalwork. Here the owner is urged, if he wishes to acquire riches, to avoid wine, to cultivate patience and refill the vessel with water. The same inscription occurs in a more complete form on a goblet (It. "nappo") described by the Italian archaeologist and savant Michelangelo Lanci in his Trattato delle simboliche rappresentanze arabiche, Paris, 1846, II, p.101 and pl. XXXVII B). The letter forms and arrangement of the words in the two inscriptions are closely related. The content of our inscription would be more appropriate in a ewer and it could be argued that the dish was intended to have an accompanying ewer which would have borne a similar inscription. The raised centre of the dish may have been intended as a stand for its accompanying ewer.
Arabic inscriptions of a similar nature can be found on other related brass dishes such as the verses inscribed on a dish in the Aron Collection (James W. Allan, Metalwork of the Islamic World: The Aron Collection, London, 1986, no.12). Another example of this type of dish is published in Treasures of Islam, exhibition catalogue, Geneva, 1985, p.271, no.280.
On the underside of the rim there are three widely spaced engraved inscriptions originally giving the name of the patron who ordered the dish, reading together 'mimma 'umila bi rasm' al-'abd al-faqir ...', the name itself has unfortunately been completely obliterated. On the outside of the cavetto is a further engraved inscription which reads 'al-mu'allim Ahmad bin Ibrahim al-Hawrani'. This is an indication that he perhaps came from the Hawran, the southern region of Syria.
We suggest that the term al-mu'allim signifies that Ahmad bin Ibrahim was a master and maker of the dish, such as the same title given to Zayn al-Din, maker of the great Baptistère de St. Louis.