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  • Place of origin:

    Iran (made)

  • Date:

    1450-1475 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Buff-coloured fritware, underglaze-painted in olive-green against white slip, clear glaze

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Ceramics, Room 137, The Curtain Foundation Gallery, case 28, shelf 2, box 2

Mashhad was an important holy city with a shrine built to commemorate Imam Reza, a descendent of the prophet Mohammed, attracting thousands of pilgrims each year. Under Shah Rukh it became a major Timurid capital. A pottery workshop must have been established there by the 1440s, as an unusual pot, perhaps a sprinkler or ewer, the decoration maybe the cannabis plant, is inscribed with the date AH848(AD1444/5) and a poetic verse incorporating the word 'Mashhad'. The pot, a "souvenir" bought by a pilgrim, is in the Royal Scottish Museum, Edinburgh.

Petrographic analysis (the study of the geological particles in the body) of this vessel and a dish in the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, similar to the V&A dish, but painted with three asters having an inscription and dated AH878 (AD1473/4), provide confirmation of the types of wares produced in Mashhad. Dishes have a narrow footrim, and the distinctive rim border pattern. The designs are probably based on local luxury wares produced at Nishapur, rather than direct imitations of Chinese porcelain. The wares from this workshop are rare.

Physical description

Dish, fritware, with flat rim and narrow foot, covered with a white slip, underglaze-painted in a dark olive-green, a chromium oxide colourant, depicting three ducks among water-plants in a pond, two borders around the rim, one with a stylized water weed border and the other with panels of stripes and scrolls loosely imitating Chinese wave borders.

Place of Origin

Iran (made)


1450-1475 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Buff-coloured fritware, underglaze-painted in olive-green against white slip, clear glaze


Diameter: 34.9 cm

Object history note

Probably part of the group found in Kubachi, Daghestan in Northwest Iran.

Descriptive line

Dish, fritware, underglaze-painted in greenish-black with three ducks on a pond within a stylized wave and rock border, Iran, Mashhad, 1450-1475.

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

Lisa Golombek, Robert B. Mason, and Gauvin A. Bailey, Tamerlane's tableware : a new approach to the chinoiserie ceramics of fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Iran, Costa Mesa, California, (Mazda Publishers in association with Royal Ontario Museum) 1996, p. 153, and pl. 59, p. 217.
Marina Whitman, Persian Blue-and- White Ceramics: Cycles of Chinoiserie, University Microfilms International, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1978,, fig. 65.

Production Note

register, Golombek, et al.


Fritware; Glaze; Slip


Glazed; Painted

Subjects depicted

Spiral; Foliage; Ducks; Stem; Plant




Middle East Section

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