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  • Place of origin:

    Romania (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1700-1800 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Lead-glazed earthenware decorated with thick impasto cobalt blue

  • Credit Line:


  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Europe 1600-1815, Room 1, case CA4

The Tara Barsei region, ‘Burzenland’ in German, is located in Romania, in the south eastern part of the province of Transylvania. Brasov is the regional capital and is one of the seven fortified towns (‘Siebenburgen’) of the Saxon lands.

In the 12th century, these lands were incorporated into the Kingdom of Hungary and Magyar settlers (Szeklers) were transplanted to this heavily forested and hilly region. In spite of this migration, there were insufficient numbers of settlers to develop the area economically and to defend the region from eastern invaders. The Hungarian King, Geza II, invited settlers from the Germanic lands to the northwest and many moved into the area. They were collectively known as ‘Saxons’ although more recent dialect studies indicate a Lower Rhineland origin.

The Saxon settlers came to dominate this region and its mixed population of Romanians and Hungarians; maintaining a distinctive culture and language. In the 20th century, after the region came under Romanian rule and then later under Romanian communist control, the power of the Saxons greatly declined. Many left and settled in Austria and the newly unified Germany. Today, there is only about 4% of the Saxon population left in Romania.

It is believed that potters from the western, Hungarian, part of the kingdom had settled in the region in the 17th century bringing their technique of slipware decoration. Combining this technique with a sombre palette of blue on white, perhaps in imitation of the decoration on Rhineland stoneware, they produced a distinctive pottery form characteristic of Tara Barsei. The clay is buff-coloured and is covered with a white slip; the decoration is applied in cobalt blue in thick impasto. This characteristic pottery is still produced today but the blue decoration is flat, lacking the depth and richness of the original pottery.

The open-air Village Museum in Bucharest contains a wide range of traditional Romanian, Hungarian and Saxon homes. Many of these homesteads were re-located here along with their original contents. Dishes such as the one here were displayed on racks high up on the interior walls, indicating an appreciation of the artistic ability of the regional potters.

Physical description

Dish, deep middle and wide sloping rim. Painted with conventional fruit and flowers with foliage, those on the rim springing from a continuous wavy stem.

Place of Origin

Romania (made)


ca. 1700-1800 (made)


Unknown (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Lead-glazed earthenware decorated with thick impasto cobalt blue


Height: 74 mm, Diameter: 366 mm

Object history note

At the time of acquision, this dish was considered to be North German, 18th or 19th century. Subsequently it was attributed to Austria and 18th century.
Prof. K. Lsanui of Budapest Museum believed it to be Transylvania, 18th century (recorded 20 Jan.1951).
Bought from Sydney Vacher.

Historical context note

This dish appears to have been made in the same region as C.140-1916 (jug).
There is a jug in the Glaisher Collection (see Refs.) from the same workshop. Rackham describes these as painted in thick impasto pigments over a white slip and covered with a clear lead glaze. They are made by the Szeklers who are Magyars inhabiting the eastern region of Transylvania. He believed them to be 19th century.

Descriptive line

Earthenware dish with decoration in blue on a white slip and under a clear glaze. Romanian (Tara Barsei region, Transylvania), 18th century.

Labels and date

Made in Austria about 1700-1800
Lead-glazed earthenware decorated with coloured slips

843-1901 [16/07/2008]
Dish with decoration in thickly applied blue on a white slip, Romania (Tara Barsei region, Transylvania), 1700-1800
843-1901 [2010 (TAB)]

Production Note

Made in the Tara Barsei region of Transylvania.




Ceramics; Earthenware


Ceramics Collection

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