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  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Iran (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1550-1642 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Fritware, painted in two blues and black

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Ceramics, Room 137, The Curtain Foundation Gallery, case 29, shelf 6

Physical description

Flange and well are covered with a diaper pattern of reserve-painted swastikas interrupted by six top-bracketed panels. These are decorated with either a flower spray or the same design as the centre, which represents a standing crane against a lotus leaf with flowers. The outside is divided equally between eight panels with small flowers and space dividers enclosing hanging jewels.

Place of Origin

Iran (made)


ca. 1550-1642 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Fritware, painted in two blues and black


Height: 8.7 cm, Width: 40.7 cm, Width: 20.5 cm base

Object history note

Historical significance: The remarkable quality of the painting indicates how Safavid potters were able to mistify early travellers and merchants into believing that their production was Chinese.

Historical context note

From the last quarter of the 16th until mid 17th century Chinese dishes with petal panels were the 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. The outline was also used on Central Asian slip-painted wares and possibly Sultanabad dishes. The occasional late Yuan dish brings the design forward in time and as a single unit it is used in bands of panels on the shoulder or the base of 15th century Chinese ewers and vases. Plain dividers between the panels first appear on jars around 1500 and more often during the Jiajing rule. The panels are eventually enhanced with jewel symbols and flowers when used as a framing device on Kraak dishes.

In addition to the regular demands of the Asian market, specific orders, first from the Portuguese then the Dutch, called for an increased production of large dishes and eventually new shapes. At this stage these striking bands of petal panels reappear and are copied with gusto by the Persian potter along with other Chinese ornaments. 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 are adopted as decorations and the simplified leafy peach motif becomes especially popular in both China and Persia. In the 17th century Persian potters reinterpret the human figures copied from Chinese models in a comic manner.

Descriptive line

Fritware dish, Iran, 1550-1642

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, Switzerland 2002, ISBN 0-9538196-1-2, Worldwide distribution by Thames & Hudson, p. 66.





Subjects depicted

Crane; Lotus; Swastikas; Flowers




Middle East Section

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