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Bowl fragment

Bowl fragment

  • Place of origin:

    Málaga (made)

  • Date:

    1300-1400 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Tin-glazed earthenware with lustre decoration

  • Credit Line:

    Given by G.D. Hornblower, Esq.

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Ceramics, Room 145, case 3, shelf 2

Physical description

Footring fragment from a small bowl. Glazed on both sides with a thick opaque tin-glaze, and decorated on both sides with a monochrome silver lustre. The interior decoration is very simple, consisting of two overlapping rosettes, forming an 8-pointed star. The decoration on the reverse is more complicated: around the outside of the footring are overlapping semicircles, flanking a border of solid lustre. Within the footring itself is written in Arabic the word ‘Malaga’, indicating the bowl’s place of production as well as likely point of export.
Technical Description
The bowl has been crudely potted – there are bits of clay and other inclusions stuck to the clay body underneath the glaze, and there seems to be an airpocket at the base where the foot joins to bowl. It also seems to have been cut too quickly off the wheel, as a lump of clay from the cutting tool has got stuck inside the footring. Obviously this was not considered problematic by the potter as he subsequently glazed it and proceeded all the way through to the lustre decorating stage.

The glaze does not seem to have been evenly applied. There is a pocket inside the footring where the glaze has not reached. Perhaps it was applied too hastily. It is also not a very good quality glaze – it is not very well attached to the body and is now flaking off. It has lots of flecks and may have been ‘cut’ with something to maximise the use of the expensive tin oxide.

Some spots of cobalt blue have dripped onto the interior of the bowl, probably from another object being fired on top of it (see the Comparative Study). Again, though, the lustre decoration has been applied on top of it.

Place of Origin

Málaga (made)


1300-1400 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Tin-glazed earthenware with lustre decoration

Marks and inscriptions

Inscribed in Arabic


Width: 10.2 cm, Thickness: 0.6 cm

Object history note

This object was found at Fustat (Egypt). It was presented to the V&A in 1921 by Mr. G. D. Hornblower, along with more than 1000 other pottery fragments.

Notes from V&A Archives: A selection of ‘1100 and more specimens’, from Fostat and neighbourhood’, including ‘imported ware from Samarra’. (Letter from Hornblower to Bernard Rackham, 4th January 1921).

Letter from Hornblower 07/02/1921: Fragments to be packed and sent by Mr. E. Hatoun, Cairo. ‘To prevent chipping or abrasion, the fragments will be packed in small palm-stick cages, which are exceedingly tough and elastic, and the cages then packed in wooden boxes. The case ‘must first be presented at the Arabic Museum, Cairo, to be sealed’. ‘P.s. I propose £E200 as value for insurance’.
Comparative Study The two most important comparative pieces of Nasrid lustre bowls also inscribed with the word 'maliqah' (Malaga) in the footring are both in the Museum für Islamische Kunst in Berlin:

The first is a complete lustre bowl (MIK I.4181), decorated with vertical panels of alternating geometric interlace and floral scrolls (quite similar to the designs on 1186-1897, though there it is disposed horizontally). The bowl is glazed in a pale tin-opacified blue on the exterior, which is painted with simple lotus petal designs in lustre.

The second is a fragment of a bowl (MIK I.1985.3.12), also decorated on the exterior with a tin-opacified blue and painted with lotus petal designs in lustre. These two objects were probably therefore made in the same workshop. On the interior, this bowl is glazed with a thick tin glaze and has a design of a deer painted in cobalt blue pigment. In the background to the decoration is painted in monochrome lustre and filled with floral motifs and tight scrolls which are the same as those around the word 'maliqah' on the V&A fragment. Again, this indicates a shared workshop. The use of cobalt blue in the decoration of other pieces within the workshop also explains the presence of the cobalt blue drip on the interior of the V&A fragment.
This fragment is on permanent display in the V&A's World Ceramics gallery (Gallery 145) in a display entitled 'Arab Innovation and European Tradition'.

Descriptive line

Fragment of a bowl, tin-glazed earthenware with lustre decoration, made in Málaga, Spain, 1300-1400

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Ray, Anthony. Spanish Pottery 1248-1898. London : V&A Publications, 2000.
Rosser-Owen, Mariam, Islamic Arts from Spain (London: V&A Publishing, 2010), p. 67, pl. 58

Lane, Arthur. ‘Early Hispano-Moresque pottery: a reconsideration’, Burlington Magazine, vol. LXXXVIII (1946), pl.11A and B
Frothingham, Alice Wilson. Lustreware of Spain (New York, 1951), fig. 17a

Caiger-Smith, Alan. Lustre Pottery (London, 1985), pl.51A

Mariam Rosser-Owen, '"From the Mounds of Old Cairo": Spanish ceramics
from Fustat in the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum'. Actas del I Congreso Red Europea de Museos de Arte Islámico (Granada:Patronato de la Alhambra y Generalife, 2012)

Two comparative pieces in the Museum für Islamische Kunst in Berlin are published in Schätze der Alhambra: Islamische Kunst aus Andalusien (Berlin, 1995), pp. 246-7: cat. no. 122 (bowl, MIK I.4181) and cat. no. 123 (fragment, MIK I.1985.3.12).

See also Ernst Kühnel, “Loza hispanoarabe excavada en Oriente”, Al-Andalus 7 (1942), pp. 253-268.

Labels and date

Fragment, bowl
Made in Málaga, Granada, Spain 14th century
Tin-glazed earthenware with lustre decoration

C.1606-1921 Gift of Mr G.D. Hornblower [16/07/2008]


Earthenware; Tin glaze




Ceramics; Lustre ware


Ceramics Collection

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