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Dervish's wallet

  • Object:

    Kashkul (dervish's bow)

  • Place of origin:

    Iran (made)

  • Date:

    1850-1860 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    carved coconut shell

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

  • Public access description

    The beggar's bowl or ‘kashkul’ was a sign of the religious poverty assumed by Islamic mystics. This function is reflected in the inscriptions used. On this ‘kashkul’ they include verses from the Qur'an as well as poetry in Persian praising the ‘kashkul’ in mystical terms.

    This bowl is carved from half the shell of a huge nut. It is the fruit of the coco de mer palm which grows in the Seychelles Islands, in the Indian Ocean. The shell washes ashore in southern Iran.

    The shell’s journey took on spiritual significance as a symbol of the dervish’s journey on the ocean of mystic knowledge. Many ‘kashkuls’ even have a ‘prow’ carved on them. Others have a small spout to make the bowl into a drinking vessel.

  • Physical description

    Formed of half a double cocoa nut, carved, in low relief, with a horizontal registers of foliated designs alternating with devotional inscriptions.

  • Dimensions

    Length: 30.5 cm, Width: 13 cm

  • Descriptive line

    Kashkul or dervish's bowl, carved coco de mer, Iran, Qajar period, 1850-60

  • Labels and date

    Sufism is the inner or esoteric spritual dimension of Islam. Some Sufi sages, or dervishes, carried alms bowls like the two displayed here, both for practical and symbolic purposes. The alms bowl symbolized the individual's passive receptivity to God.

    Iran, 19th century
    Coco de mer
    7345-1861 [5 June 2000]

  • Production Type and Product Note


  • Collection code

    Middle East Section