5879

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Five Ottoman Sherbet Spoons

Ottoman Turkey
18th-19th century

lengths: 22cm-38cm

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Provenance

private collection, UK.

These five luxurious and exotic spoons are made of tortoiseshell, Mediterranean coral, brass, bone and horn. Such spoons commonly are described as having been used for dessert, typically fruit sherbets. But similar spoons also were used for rice and other sweet foods such as fruit stews and preserves. They were used to serve oneself from a communal dish at the table, but not necessarily used to transfer food to the mouth.

They would have graced only the most luxurious tables in Istanbul, in palaces including the Topkapi and the homes of the nobility and wealthy merchants.

Each has a tear-shaped, deep bowl with a pointed tip, and a long, thin handle. Three examples have red branched coral finials. Two others have bone finials carved as pine cone.

Related examples are illustrated in Koc et al (2007, p. 129).

All are in fine condition. The bowl of the smallest spoon has minor nibbles to the edge of the tortoiseshell.

References

Koc, A., et al, Istanbul: The City and the Sultan, Nieuwe Kerk, 2007.

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