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  • Place of origin:


  • Date:


  • Credit Line:

    Given in memory of Setrag and Marie Balian

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Ceramics, Room 137, The Curtain Foundation Gallery, case 24, shelf 8

These two objects (ME.5 and 6-2016) were made in 2015 by the Balian family in their workshop, now known as ‘the Palestinian Pottery’. The workshop was originally founded by Nishan Balian and two other Armenian potters in 1919, who had been brought from Kütahya in western Turkey on the recommendation of CR Ashbee (1863-1942), a civic advisor to the British Mandate in Palestine and a prominent figure in the British Arts and Crafts movement. The three potters established a School of Ceramics in Jerusalem, where they trained orphaned survivors of the Armenian genocide and produced pottery for retail and export, as well as street signs for the city of Jerusalem. It was also intended that they would provide tiles for the restoration of the Dome of the Rock, however this did not happen until the 1960s.

In the 1960s Setrag Balian (son of Nishan) married Marie, a French-Armenian artist who became their main painter and designer. This marked a shift in the stylistic vocabulary of the pottery, blending the traditional decoration with more local styles and motifs derived from Late Antique mosaic pavements then being uncovered through archaeological excavation. In particular Marie Balian was inspired by the mosaic in the diwan at Khirbat al-Mafjar (outside Jericho), which shows a large fruiting tree flanked by gazelles, one of which is being attacked by a lion. Birds and gazelles from these two sources thus became some of the iconic motifs of the Balian pottery, and can still be seen on wares produced by the pottery today, such as this vase and dish (ME.5 and 6-2016).

Physical description

Ceramic dish, honey-coloured ground, with decoration of deer, birds and flowers.

Place of Origin




Marks and inscriptions


Descriptive line

Dish, made by the Balian family in the Palestinian pottery, Jerusalem, 2015.




Painted; Glazed; Technique


Ceramics; Middle East


Middle East Section

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