Object Image
The carving of utensils and other objects from soft stones is an extremely ancient art in the Near East. Steatite and other related talcs (the English word is of Persian origin) are easy to carve, relatively strong and non-brittle and are impervious to fire. Many of medieval Nishapur's stone utensils were, despite a lowly material and a utilitarian function, of very high artistic merit. They often have powerfully sculptural forms, and their silhouettes, from various angles, take the form of beautiful two-dimensional patterns. Some pieces were at least partially colored with pigment.

Credit: Rogers Fund, 1940 ...
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9th-11th century
Steatite; carved, with incised decoration
Image and text © Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2019

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Permanent collection