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  • Place of origin:

    Iran (made)
    Isfahan (probably, made)

  • Date:

    1627 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Fritware with decoration painted under the glaze

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Ceramics, Room 137, The Curtain Foundation Gallery, case 29, shelf 8

Physical description

Memorial stele with decoration on one side, probably intended to stand against a wall. The shape is roughly an upright rectangle, with the sides curving in very gradually towards its rounded top. Fritware painted under the glaze in black, blue, red, yellow and green on a white ground. The main feature is an inscription in a bold but uneven nasta'liq hand, in black. Two lines of Persian verse are followed by three lines in Persianized Arabic containing the name and death date of the deceased. The lines of the inscription are separated by narrow, horizontal bands of blue, and the whole is framed on three sides by a border in blue and white. Above it, in the lunette-shaped area at the top of the object, are a group of personal objects and floral motifs, all sketchily drawn, with the Sun, in the form of a human face framed by coloured rays, looking down from above. On either side of the Sun are pendant trails of flowers (or earrings?), with a two-sided comb on either side, in black only. Below the combs are two patterned rectangles that may well represent purses, with a pair of rings on either side, making eight rings in all. The rings have blue and red stones. At the base, in the centre, is a floral device (or perhaps two, one superposed on the other). There is a smaller floral device at the bottom right and the base of another bottom left. Dated 1627.

Place of Origin

Iran (made)
Isfahan (probably, made)


1627 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Fritware with decoration painted under the glaze

Marks and inscriptions

خدایا نور دین همراه ما کن
محمدرا شفاعت خواه ما کن
وفات السعید المرحوم مهدیقلی
بن غلام علی مافنابادی
فی شهر صفر سنه ۱۰۳۷
O Lord, make the Light of Religion our travelling companion!
Make Muhammad our intercessor!
The death of the happy [man] taken unto [God's] mercy, Mahdiquli
son of Ghulam 'Ali Maf...nabadi
in the month of Safar in the year 1037.
Yui Kanda has identified the two lines of Persian verse as from the Asrar-namah, or Book of Secrets, of 'Attar, which appears on other ceramic memorials she has studied.

The last name of Mahdiquli ibn Ghulam 'Ali has not been read convincingly. It is his nisbah, which in this case associates him with a settlement called Maf...nabad. This name is written here clearly, as it is on V&A:544-1878 (on the reverse of the stele), as well as on a similar stele in the Museum für Islamische Kunst in Berlin, but no settlement with this name is recorded. The reading Baftabadi has also been suggested.

The month Safar 1037 in the Hijri calendar corresponds to the period 12 October to 9 November 1627.


Height: 29.2 cm, Width: 23.5 cm

Descriptive line

Ceramic memorial stele, fritware painted under the glaze in black, blue, red, yellow and green on a white ground, Iran, probably Isfahan ("Kubachi" ware), dated 1627

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

Yui Kanda, Safavid Ceramic Tombstones, M.Phil. dissertation, University of Oxford, 2015, pp.39-40, with references to:

Brocklebank, R. H. R., “Kubatcha Faïence”, The Burlington Magazine, 59 (344), 1931, p. 219.

Ettinghausen, Richard, “Important Pieces of Persian Pottery in London Collections”, Ars Islamica, II, 1935, pp. 75-77, and fig. 15 (on p.52).

Ettinghausen, Richard, “The Ceramic Art in Islamic Times: B. Dated Faience”, in A Survey of Persian Art, eds. Arthur Upham Pope and Phyllis Ackerman, vol. 2, London and New York, 1939, no.185.

Golombek, Lisa, Robert B. Mason, Patricia Proctor and Eileen Reilly, Persian Pottery in the First Global Age: The Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, Leiden and Boston, 2014, p.433 and fig.2.48 (on p.88).




Painted; Glazed

Subjects depicted

Flowers; Diaper-work; Busts




Middle East Section

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