Bronze Mortar with Incised Decoration - LO.651, Origin: Central Asia, Circa: 1100 AD to 1200 AD, Dimensions: 5.75" (14.6cm) high x 6.25 " (15.9cm) wide, Collection: Islamic art, Style: Khurasan, Medium: Quarternary Bronze. In the Islamic tradition, the buraq was a creature said to have transported the Prophet Muhammad to heaven. Described as a white animal, half- mule, half-donkey, with wings on its sides, Buraq was originally introduced into the story of Muhammad's night journey (isra') from Mecca to Jerusalem and back, thus explaining how the journey between the cities could have been completed in a single night. Sometimes mistakenly described as Muhammad's horse, the buraq was a creature described as being part eagle and horse, thus resembling a pegasus. An excerpt from a Sahih Muslim hadith describes a buraq:"I was brought by the Buraq, which is an animal white and long, larger than a donkey but smaller than a mule, who would place its hoof at a distance equal to the range of vision." In literature and art, often portrayed with the face of a woman and the tail of a peacock, the buraq is mostly visible in the sacred manuscripts, where the creativity of the artist was less hampered by religious restrictions. In both a leaf from a copy of the Bustan of Sacdi dated 1514 originally from Uzbekistan and now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), and a 16th Century manuscript of Khamsa of Nizami in the British Library (London), narrating the Mi'raj, or ascension of the Prophet, Muhammad is depicted on his steed, the buraq. The artist has painted the legendary creature prancing forward as about to take a leap into the Seven Heavens, her human face depicted frontally. Comparable anthropoid depictions of the buraq are known also from many engraved metal vessels dating to the Seljuq period.
Ancient Near East