Large Sufi Dervish Coco-de-Mer Begging Bowl (Kashkul)
Persia or Northern India
length: 35cm, width: 19cm, height: 18.5cm
Kashkuls carried the food donations on which Sufi dervishes and wandering ascetics relied for sustenance. They also functioned as drinking vessels – many were fitted with drinking spouts to that end.
They symbolised the emptying of the Sufi’s ego through the renunciation of worldly goods and aspirations. The bowls were produced in a variety of media and were held or hung from the shoulder by metal chains. The earliest examples date to the thirteenth or fourteenth century, and their form may have been derived from crescent- and boat-shaped wine bowls made in pre-Islamic Iran.
This example is made from the shell of the coco-de-mer, which is native to several islands in the Indian Ocean.
This example is larger than most and has a superb patina. The shell has been left in its natural state and is without carving. It has been worn almost flat on the protruding part of one side, consistent with the vessel rubbing against the chest of the wearer whilst being suspended from the neck. Rarely do extant examples show such clear and obvious wear consistent with actual use. The brass spout has been worn thin with wear. The bowl is suspended by a double chain which is fixed to the bowl by means of two brass loops which are fixed to the nut via two serrated flower-like brass disks.
Inventory no.: 865