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  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Iran (made)

  • Date:

    1600-40 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Fritware, painted in underglaze blue

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Ceramics, Room 145, shelf High on wall

Physical description

This dish, inspired by Chinese porcelain, is the first of a series of three large dishes with figures. Its extended rim brackets command the width of the eight panels filled with different flowery branches. Their open-ended dividers have scroll or swastika patterns above a knotted ribbon. An eight-bracket Kraak frame surrounds a scene with two figures. A hatted scholar, with his bare left leg stretched out, sits on a rocky mound. His left hand holds a long-necked bottle; his right hand is on his heart. Behind him a small bottle is set on a dotted table with only two legs. On the left a thin rock border reaches to the volutes of a cloud with a pine and two bamboo trees by its side and two small birds in mid-air. Only part of the other figure dressed in white is visible. He has a sharp nose and hair pulled back. The eight leafy peach panels on the outside have comma dividers.

Place of Origin

Iran (made)


1600-40 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Fritware, painted in underglaze blue


Height: 9 cm, Width: 50.7 cm, Width: 26.7 cm base ring

Object history note

Historical significance: From the last quarter of the 16th until the mid 17th Century, Chinese dishes with petal panels were common export wares. The striking effect of the new style of decoration made the design popular not only with the Persian potter, but also across western Europe. The design originated in the Tang dynasty when the flattened petals of the lotus decorated Buddhist paintings, stone tiles and various artefacts. These panels vary in number but they are usually six or eight, according to the size of the dish. Flowers, fruit, birds and sacred emblems were adopted as decorations and the simplified leafy peach motif became especially popular in both China and Persia. In the 17th Century, Persian potters reinterpreted the human figures copied from Chinese models in a comic manner.

Historical context note

Persian blue and white ceramics were primarily produced during the rule of the Safavid Dynasty in Iran (early 16th Century to early 18th Century). Iranian potters were almost exclusively preoccupied with making wares in the styles of Chinese blue-and-white porcelain, some close copies and some more fanciful. Echoes of earlier traditions remained, in particular in the black-under-turquoise colour scheme that dates back in Iran to the end of the 12th Century. Towards the end of the 16th Century there was a widening of interest, that blossomed in the 17th Century to a wide range of styles and techniques in which blue and white played a dominant but not exclusive role.

Descriptive line

Dish, fritware, painted in underglaze blue and black on white, Iran, Safavid period, 1600-40

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

Y. Crowe, Persia and China: Safavid Blue and White Ceramics in the Victoria and Albert Museum 1501-1738, (London: Thames & Hudson, 2002): 63, Cat. no. 27.





Subjects depicted

Trees; Bamboo; Birds; Bottles; Cloud; Figures




Middle East Section

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