Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

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4 / Ceremony and Society

Basin (known as the Baptistère of Saint Louis)
Basin (known as the Baptistère of Saint Louis)
Artist / Origin Mohammed ibn al-Zain (Egyptian or Syrian)
Region: West Asia
Date Mamluk Period, ca. 1320–1340
Material Brass inlaid with silver and gold
Dimensions H: 8 ¾ in. (22.2 cm.), Diam.: 19 ¾ in. (50.2 cm.)
Location Musée du Louvre, Paris, France
Credit Réunion des Musées Nationaux/Art Resource, NY

expert perspective

Nasser RabbatAga Khan Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Basin (known as the Baptistère of Saint Louis)

» Mohammed ibn al-Zain (Egyptian or Syrian)

expert perspective

Nasser Rabbat Nasser Rabbat Aga Khan Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

One object that you might want to show, because it is not a ceremonial object in its original form—it was most probably ceremonial in a sense that it was a banquet object—which is actually a huge metal bowl that was taken in 1249 from Egypt to France and it became the baptistery of all the French kings. It’s called the Baptistère de Saint Louis because it’s named after Louis IX, who was trying to conquer Egypt in 1249 and was defeated by the Mamluks. But this objects ended up in the French possession and went back to become this highly, highly, highly meaningful object, where all the kings of France were baptized until the French Revolution. It is actually a copper huge basin that is carved with images of the sultan on his horse and all the emirs, all the princes around him in their sort of ceremonial dresses. So they give us some sort of an idea of how they might have looked.” 

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