The Arab pomander is a unique piece and one of the greatest ceramics works created by Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro. It was dedicated and presented to Counsellor Júlio de Vilhena, a friend of the artist and director of the Bank of Portugal, who successively postponed the recovery of the debts of the Fábrica de Faianças das Caldas da Rainha, which was undergoing serious financial problems at the time.
The piece has varied decoration, with emphasis on the lions supporting the vessel, as well as the highly fragile and intricately worked elements imitating filigree. At the front and the back of the piece are two niches with small micro sculptures alluding to the Way of the Cross, a reference to the sculptures the artist created for the Chapels of Buçaco. Two small panels imitating tiles refer to motifs of Hispano-Moresque inspiration, bringing that period of Iberian history back to life. This piece was donated to the museum by Júlio de Vilhena at the encouragement of the museum’s founder, Cruz de Magalhães.