The inscriptions have been read in full by Dr. Melikian-Chirvani. He translates the verses:
The prince of the two worlds, the seal of messengers
Came last: he became the pride of the very first
To the throne and the seat, not to the sky, he made his ascent
The prophets and friends of God were in need of him
His existence was spent in guarding the two worlds
The whole surface of the world became his mosque
The lord of the two worlds, the leader of mankind:
The moon was split by the tip of his finger.
The inscriptions on the other side are in a diffrent metre:
The one had for him the friend of the beloved
While the other was leader of the Pious bands
(The servant of the Shah of Najaf, Shams al-Din)
....For this reason did they become friends of God
The one was a fount of moral gentleness and spiritual modesty in the world
While the other was "The Gate of the City of Knowledge"
That envoy of Truth/God that was the best among humans
His immaculate uncle was Hamza son of 'Abbas.
This is one of five impressive Safavid engraved brass kashkuls which can be dated to the last two decades of the seventeenth century. The largest and most impressive of these is in the Tokapi Palace Museum. A second, formerly in the Hashem Khosrovani Colection, was sold at Sotheby's, London, 16 October 1997, Lot 21 and is now in the Museum of Islamic Art, Qatar (Allan, James W.: Metalwork Treasures from the Islamic Courts, Doha, 2002, no. 15, pp. 56-9). The third was on the Art Market (The Unity of Islamic Art, exhibition catalogue, Riyadh, 1985, no. 99, pp. 122-3) while the fourth was formerly in the Rothschild and Edwin Binney 3rd Collections (Pope, A.U.: A Survey of Persian Art, London, Oxford, 1938, pl. 1386A; Welch, Anthony: Shah 'Abbas and the Arts of Isfahan, New York, 1973, fig. 42, pp. 470-71 incorrectly identified as copper). All of these except the last one are illustrated alongside the discussion by Melikian-Chirvani (op. cit.).
In his discussion Melikian-Chirvani clearly shows how a royal wine vessel form, dating from pre-Islamic times, was transformed over centuries into a dervish's begging bowl. These five vessels were made at a period when the transformation was mid-way. They are extremely well-made with very elegant calligraphy; the workmanship on the Tokapi example is such that both the designer and the calligrapher give their names. The inscriptions on that kashkul clearly express the duality of purpose; while they refer at one stage to the "Magian ruby beverage" they also mention "the crescent moon of the celestial vault becomes the boat of our beggarhood". The inscriptions are full of Sufi mysticism and in some cases explicitly demonstrate that they were made for the use of dervishes. Dr. Melikian-Chirvani explains in great detail, using quotes from Persian verse from a long historical period, the symbolism inherent in the kashkul. Its comparison with both a boat and the crescent moon is contrasted with the sea (wine) and the sun as indicated ultimately, by the reflection of the Almighty in the surface, and through the contents.