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Tile panel

Tile panel

  • Place of origin:

    Damascus (made)

  • Date:

    1600-1650 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Fritware, decoration painted under the glaze

  • Museum number:

    1427:1 to 27-1902

  • Gallery location:

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

Physical description

Panel of twenty-seven tiles, fritware body, painted under the glaze. The cartouche in the top centre contains an inscription in Arabic, being the text known as the Shahadah, 'There is no god but God; Muhammad is the prophet of God'. The rest of the main field has a cobalt-blue background filled with a variety of motifs arranged to fill the surface rather than to depict a scene realistically; no attempt was made to co-ordinate the scaling of the motifs. In addition to blue, the colours used are white, the apple-green characteristic of Damascus tilework, turquoise, and manganese-purple. The motifs consist of:
1. sprays of flowers that are mostly shown as though growing together from clumps of leaves on the base line; there are carnations, tulips, irises, hyacinths, prunus flowers and small rosettes, all white.
2. in the centre, beneath the inscription, a single, large two-handled vase, white, with a combination of two scrolling stems, one bearing green leaves and blue and purple rosettes, the other set with split palmettes; there is a green and purple bracket at the base of the neck.
3. on either side of the vase, a cypress tree with the meandering stem of a fruiting grape vine behind it; this combination is presumably based on the practice of growing vines up trees, but here the vines appear unsupported.
4. on either side of the cypress trees, a flowering prunus tree, each inhabited by a single small bird.
5. at either end, a large drinking mug filled with flowers (as in 1 above), each set on a purple, footed dish, which is gadrooned and therefore presumably metal; the mugs are white with decoration similar to the vase (see 2 above), and the angled handles are turquoise.

Place of Origin

Damascus (made)


1600-1650 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Fritware, decoration painted under the glaze


Height: 66.4 cm, Length: 195.6 cm

Descriptive line

Panel of twenty-seven tiles, fritware body, painted in colours on a white slip under a clear glaze, Damascus, first half of the 17th century.

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

Arthur Millner, Damascus Tiles, Munich, 2015, fig.6.79: "Ottoman Damascus, 1570-90".

This dating is presumably based on tiles surviving on monuments of the late 16th century in Damascus, but the V&A panel seems to be slightly later because of the less measured use of a greater variety of design elements, and because of a sharp change in the style of calligraphy. [Tim Stanley]

Production Note



Fritware; Slip; Glaze


Glazed; Painted

Subjects depicted

Cypress; Cresting; Vase; Flowers; Stem; Mug; Interlace




Middle East Section

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