• Blue Monkey

    Blue Monkey

    Blue Monkey

Blue Monkey

Iran, Kashan
Saljuq or Khwarazmid period, 6th – 7th century AH / 12th - 13th century CE
Turquoise glazed fritware
27.1 x 16.5 x 16.4 cm
PO.741.2007

Ceramic figurines and figural ewers are not uncommon in the mediaeval period in Iran, particularly from the fritwares produced in 12th - 13th century Kashan, Iran. A wide variety of subjects are known, ranging from soldiers on horseback to breastfeeding women to animals.

MIA has a lustreware example in the form of a sphinx (MIA.PO.592). A relatively rare subgroup - known from less than a handful of extant examples, one of which is seen here - portray a monkey. With its even turquoise-glaze over a fritware body, the figurine is consistent with the fine ceramic wares produced in central Iran - particularly the city of Kashan - in the 12th and 13th centuries. Seated on his haunches with his hands on his knees and wearing a pointed cap and a slightly mournful expression, the monkey has clear anthropomorphic qualities which endear him to his audience. This probably would have been the case for the actual monkeys which entertained the people of medieval Iran, who might have performed tricks in the streets or been central characters in puppetry performances.

Monkeys were thought to bring good fortune. A number of seated monkey figurines - although much smaller in size, and unglazed - are known from the 12th - 13th century in Iran and now feature in museums worldwide. A turquoise-glazed, monkey-shaped ewer, used for the pouring of liquids, is housed in the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. 

The Doha Hind