Following a characteristic Central Asian shape, this jug’s form can be traced back to fifteenth-century Timurid models (see Lentz & Lowry 1989, p.161, no.57). These were inspired in turn by precious metal vessels produced under Mongol patronage in the territories of the Golden Horde and other Mongol domains. The body of the Timurid prototype is more rounded or spherical, but the neck, handle and base are a close match. However, whereas the Timurid craftsmen had worked in the inlay technique of their Khurasanian forebears, the craftsmen employed under Ottoman patronage adopted the decorative repertory of the Balkan ateliers, embossing, engraving and punching the surface to create a high-relief effect that is further enhanced by the deliberate darkening of the ground. The reserve technique with meandering scrolls is a provincial variant of the 'Abraham of Kutahya' style that characterised Ottoman court production in the early decades of the sixteenth century.
A small number of comparable silver-gilt tankards of this type survive. The recorded examples are held in the following institutions:
1. Victoria and Albert Museum, London (inv. no.158-1894), published in Petsopoulos 1982, pl.18.
2. Hermitage, St Petersburg (inv. no.NT.358), published in Petsopoulos 1982, p.25, fig.7c,
3. The David Collection, Copenhagen (inv. no.15/1986), published in von Folsach 2001, p.330, no.531.
4. The David Collection, Copenhagen (inv. no.11/1991), published in von Folsach 2001, p.330, no.532.
5.-7. Three examples in The Benaki Museum, Athens (inv. no.14000), published in .
8. Monastery of Ipsilos Mytileni, Lesbos, published in Mytilena Sacra, vol.A, Thessaloniki, 1970.
9.-11. Three examples in monasteries in Mount Athos, to be published by Dr Yota Papadopoulos.
12. The Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, sold at Sotheby's, 16-17 April 1985, lot 126, published Allan 2002, pp.84-5, no.27, and Atil 1987, p.122, fig.52.
13. The Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, Sotheby's London, 13 October 2004, lot 161.
14. National Museum, Bucharest (inv. no.M 1651) from the Bistrea Monastery, Vilcea, published in Nicolescu 1968.
15. Old Serbian Orthodox Church, Sarajevo, published in Filipovic 1966.
16. Sotheby's London, 22-23 October 1992, lot 169, private collection.
17. Historical Museum, Moscow, unpublished.
18. Sotheby's London, 7 October 2009, lot 193, private collection.
19. Sotheby's London, 6 October 2010, lot 320.
This tankard encapsulates the internationalism of Ottoman art in the sixteenth century, combining forms and techniques from both east and west. The military annexation of the Balkans brought access to the rich silver mines of Bosnia and Serbia and a plentiful supply of raw materials, whilst Ottoman campaigns to the east brought an influx of craftsmen and artefacts from Safavid Persia and the former Timurid strongholds of Khurasan.