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  • Place of origin:

    Iran (made)

  • Date:

    1650-1725 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Fritware, incised, glazed

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Islamic Middle East, Room 42, The Jameel Gallery, case WN9

In the 16th century, ceramic production in Iran was on a modest scale, but when the capital moved to Isfahan around 1600, the production of luxury dishes and wall tiles in a wide variety of styles and techniques rapidly increased.

The production of ceramic vessels cannot be attributed to a particular centre. The many techniques deployed included underglaze painting, coloured glazes and lustre, which was revived after 1650.

Safavid potters created brilliantly coloured ceramics. The effect was often achieved with glazes of a single colour. Many of these wares have moulded or carved decoration, such as the decoration incised into the body of this bowl.

Physical description

Bowl, fritware, on a narrow footring, the mouth with flaring rim, the sides incised with lappet panels, each with an isolated shield-shaped lappet containing a flowerhead.

Place of Origin

Iran (made)


1650-1725 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Fritware, incised, glazed


Diameter: 20.6 cm, Height: 9.2 cm

Historical context note

Gombroon ware is the name given by collectors to a distinct class of Iranian pottery, distinguished from all others by its very fine hard white body, which is sufficiently vitrified to become quite translucent. It is usually decorated with incised or pierced patterns in the white body, occasionally with carving through a pale celadon wash, and very rarely with underglaze painting. Gombroon is the European name for Bandar-e Abbas, the main trading port on the Persian Gulf.

'The refinement of the ware sets it apart from all others of the Safavid period, and prompts the idea that it is probably of later date - perhaps reflecting the same tendencies as the fragile 'eggshell' porcelain of the .....new porcelain factories of Europe... These delicate white wares form the only Persian class we know that would have been likely to appeal to sophisticated European taste about the middle of the 18th century' (quote from Arthur Lane: Later Islamic Pottery, pp. 110).

Descriptive line

Bowl, fritware, the white body carved with a design under the glaze; Iran, 1650-1725.

Labels and date

Jameel Gallery

Safavid Ceramics and Colour
Safavid potters created brilliantly coloured ceramics. The effect was often achieved with
glazes of a single colour. Many of these wares have moulded or carved decoration. The most unusual appears on bottles made in the 17th century, which bear scenes of people and animals.

A second technique used coloured slips, or liquid clay, under the glaze. Potters sometimes carved the slip away to reveal the white body beneath. In other cases, they added designs in white and other slips.

18-19 White Ewer and Bowl
Fritware carved under the glaze
Museum no. 394-1884, 2594-1876 [Jameel Gallery]
White earthenware with incised decoration.
Mark, four crosses in blue.
PERSIAN; 17th century.
2594-1876. [1954-]

Production Note

This is probably 'Gombroon' ware: the European name given to the trading port Bandar-e




Middle East Section

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