Antique Omani brass plate with abstract swimming fishes

Antique Omani brass plate
  • Description

Very rare Omani brass plate. Very heavy (5,5 kilo) for such a small plate: Maybe for use on a dhow ship? Design with 4 abstract fishes swimming around (see slide-show) similar to Chinese plate design in the 18th century.  In Oman and Persia these fishes were also used in stamps on lead (quality mark) The uprights of Omani doors also contain fish motives (ref 1)  but they look a slightly  different. Very thick layer of brass patina on the back, so of considerable age.  Diameter 54 cm.

The traditional Omani meal of mounded rice and meat with garnishes of many kinds in separate bowls is served on a large round metal tray.

Antique Omani brass plate

The abstract fished are wonderful! The back of this very old plate is heavily corroded

Antique Omani copper

Antique Omani plate fishes 

Persian design with abstract fishes on an antique  "lead plaque" (seal of quality) 

 

Arab name: Siniyyah; Seneah nahas

Period: 1700-1850

Origin: Omani Baluchi, Zanzibar, East Africa

The use of medallions with abstract floral or animal designs in metal work may suggest that the design is originally derived from Persian metalwork. In Oman we used to find very fine antique brass containers and rosewater sprinklers with similar medallions containing floral designs but also funny cartoon like animals. Typically gazelles  and leopards and occasionally peacocks or elephants) However we also find brass containers  with just floral designs in the medallions.

This is the only antique brass item with abstract fishes I have seen in Oman. The alloy of this tray needs investigating, it may contain antimony.

References:

  1. Zanzibar its History and its people by Ingrams 1931 p 218-219 (fishes on Omani / Zanzibar doors)
  2. The Heritage of Oman by Peter Vine Immel Publishing 1995 page 57 photo bottom left. Prehistoric plate found in Oman with flower element in the centre and fishes around it.
  3. Handwerk und industrie in Ost Afrika Hamburg 1910 by Franz Stuhlmann See also afb 75  p 131-132  Picture 75 contains a silver container with emblems containing flowers that was made in East Africa. The fact that abstract animals are used in the emblems on our plates may also suggest an origin outside Oman proper e.g. Zanzibar were Islamic rules were a bit more relaxed.