Water Filter with Rabbit Design

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Water filter with rabbit design 10th–12th centuries, Fustat (medieval Cairo), Egypt Hand-tooled and pierced clay Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, 1969.2.120

Water filter with rabbit design

This lively rabbit pierced into the neck of a ceramic water filter recalls the minute rabbits woven into a tapestry also from the Fatimid period. Indeed, animals were popular decorative motifs on everyday objects in medieval Egypt. While serving the primary purpose of filtering water and preventing unwanted impurities from entering the vessel, this filter design aesthetically enhances an otherwise utilitarian object. Playing with the function of this object, the prancing rabbit was perhaps meant to appear as if splashing in a water puddle.

Bibliography: Olmer 1932; Scanlon 1986, 38–40, pls. 21c–d; 1970a, esp. fig.6e–f; 1968; 1964, esp. fig.12c; and Grube 1976, 123–125, cat. nos. 78–81.

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