Museum Hours
Thu: 1 PM–8 PM
Fri–Mon: 10 AM–5 PM
Tue–Wed: Closed
200 Larkin Street
San Francisco, CA 94102

Cup with calligraphic inscriptions

Hear the inscriptions on this rare drinking cup in white jade from the Timurid period (1370–1507) read aloud. The first inscription is in Arabic and the second is in Persian.

Names of artists or owners on artworks are relatively uncommon in Islamic art. The two royal inscriptions on this cup make it a rare object. ’Ala ud-Daulah (d. approx. 1460), whose name is on the main inscription, was the great-grandson of the Timurid dynasty’s founder, Timur (Tamerlane, 1336–1405). Little is known about ’Ala ud- Daulah’s life and career and he may easily have been forgotten in time, but through this elegant inscription his memory as a cultured patron lives on.

The Indian Mughal Emperor Jahangir (1569–1627), who owned this cup nearly 175 years after it was made, had his own name added on the rim. The Mughals, fifth-generation descendants of Timur, left their Central Asian ancestral home for India and regarded their Timurid heritage with a sense of connection and loss. By collecting masterpieces of Timurid art and inscribing their names on them, Mughal emperors affirmed their Timurid legacy.