Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.


  • Place of origin:

    Damascus (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1420-1450 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Fritware with underglaze painting

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Ceramics, Room 137, The Curtain Foundation Gallery, case WN []

These Mamluk tiles reflect the growing impact of Chinese ceramics, most evident in the colour scheme which imitates Chinese blue-and-white ceramics of the Yuan and Ming dynasties. They were painted with cobalt blue on a white ground before being glazed; blue is a fugitive colour and runs in the firing process, smearing the design. A turquoise border was often added, placed just outside the black line border.

Similar tiles survive in situ covering the walls in the mosque and tomb of the Mamluk dignitary Ghars al-Din Khalil al-Tawrizi (d. 1430) in Damascus, begun in 1423. Elsewhere they are found in the mosque of Murad II in Edirne, north-western Turkey, built in 1435-6. They are sometimes interspersed with plain turquoise tiles. The blue and white Syrian tiles are not slavish imitations of Chinese designs, but rather a unique hybrid of Islamic motifs incorporating swaying leaves or arabesques.

Physical description

Tile, one of thirty-one, fritware, hexagonal, painted in underglaze cobalt blue with Chinese inspired foliate design, Damascus (Syria), ca.1430

Place of Origin

Damascus (made)


ca. 1420-1450 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Fritware with underglaze painting


Length: 17.7 cm not meaasured

Descriptive line

Tile panel of 31 tiles, fritware, hexagonal, painted in underglaze blue, black and turquoise with a hexafoil design, Syria (Damascus), 1420-1450.

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

Arthur Lane, A Guide to the Collection of Tiles, Victoria and Albert Museum, second edition, London, 1960, pp.15-16:

"The Syrian potters also made "blue-and-white" tiles. Many are still in situ at the Turbeh of al-Tawrizi in Damascus, built in 1423. They are hexagonal and are set point-to-point, with plain turquoise triangular tiles filling the gaps between them. The Museum has a whole series of similar hexagonal tiles of about the same date which are said to have been in the Great Mosque at Damascus before it was damaged by fire in 1893 (Nos. 407 etc., 422 etc., 431 etc.-1898; 295-1900, Pl. 12). The designs fall into three groups, ... The second group from Damascus (No. 407 etc.-1898) shows on each hexagonal tile a small star containing a blue rosette, surrounded by turquoise hexagons."

John Carswell, "Six Tiles", in R. Ettinghausen, (ed.): Islamic Art in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1972, pp.99-124








Middle East Section

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.