Enquiry about object: 2890

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Rare Timurid Bronze Folding Spoon

Timurid Empire, Persia & Central Asia
14th-15th century or earlier

length: 20.8cm (13.5cm when folded)



private collection, London, UK.

This rare bronze spoon comprises a rounded, shallow bowl attached to a small stem that is attached to a longer handle by means of a hinge. The hinge allows the spoon to be folded perhaps for travelling and/or for storage in a wooden box, perhaps similar to how weights and scales were stored in small travelling boxes.

The handle has a chiselled form and an attractive faceted diamond-shaped finial. The bowl is engraved, front and back, with interlocking geometric motifs and arabesques. The engraving is particularly fine and intricate.

The spoon, with its engraving and folding mechanism is unusual. We have found no published parallels. The engraving work itself has parallels with that which appears on the reverse of steel mirrors attributed to the fifteenth century. Two such mirrors are illustrated in Allan (2000, p. 56).

The spoon’s precise use is unclear. It might have been used to eat sherbet. More likely, it was used by a pharmacist to serve herbal medicines or perhaps by a goldsmith to ladle gold dust or some other precious materials.

The Timurid dynasty was a Sunni Muslim dynasty of Turco-Mongol lineage that ruled over modern-day Iran, the Caucasus, Mesopotamia, Afghanistan, much of Central Asia, as well as parts of contemporary Pakistan, Syria, India, Anatolia. The dynasty was founded by a war-lord and conqueror known as Timur (Tamerlane) in the 14th century.

The spoon is in excellent, robust condition. There is an old nick along the handle. This might well date to the time of manufacture.


Allan, J.W., Persian Steel: The Tanavoli Collection, Yassavoli Publications, 2000.

Bashkanov, M., M. Bashkanov, P. Petrov, & N. Serikoff, Arts from the Land of Timur: An Exhibition from a Scottish Private Collection, Sogdiana Books, 2012.

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