An intricate, oblong-shaped metal bag with front-closure. There are detailed illustrations at regular points across the front, and gold and silver inlays.
Bag, known as The Courtauld Bag, Mosul, Iraq (Ilkhanid dynasty, 1256–1353) 1300–30, Brass, hammered, chased and inlaid with silver and gold. The Courtauld, London (Samuel Courtauld Trust) © The Courtauld

The Courtauld Bag

Mosul, Iraq (Ilkhanid dynasty, 1256-1353) 1300-30

The Courtauld Bag is one of the most exceptional pieces of its kind. Roundels (discs) on the bag’s body feature musicians, revellers and horsemen. The key to the bag’s function is found on its lid. Here a courtly feast unfolds, framed by a band of inscriptions praising the ruler. Attendants in minutely patterned coats and sumptuous hats bring food and drink in luxurious vessels of the type found across Asia and the Middle East. An attendant at either end offers courtly entertainments of music and hunting.

In the centre sits an enthroned female figure, probably the ruler’s consort (khatun). Her personal attendant, wearing a similar bag across his chest, offers her a mirror. The loop attachments still present on the Courtauld Bag confirm it was likewise once worn with straps.

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Two men sit across from each other at a table covered with a brown tablecloth, playing cards. Both men wear overcoats and hats, and the man on the left smokes a pipe. They sit inside a wooden building. i Paul Cézanne (1839-1906) The Card Players, around 1892-96, The Courtauld, London (Samuel Courtauld Trust)

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Attributed to Zayn al-Din, Northwestern Iran, Turkey, Egypt or Syria, Around 1475-50