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  • Place of origin:

    Basra (probably, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 850 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Tin-glazed earthenware (fritware) with lustre decoration

  • Credit Line:

    Purchased with Art Fund support and the Byran Bequest

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Islamic Middle East, Room 42, The Jameel Gallery, case 2W

This large, flat dish has lustre decoration in yellow and brown. Experts think this two-colour combination, seen also in some contemporary glass, represents the earliest phase of lustre production in ceramics.

Potters in Iraq invented the technique of lustre decoration on ceramics in the 9th century. First they made a glazed vessel or tile with little or no decoration in the normal way. When the piece had cooled, a design was painted over the glaze in metallic compounds. The pot or tile was then fired again, this time with a restricted supply of oxygen. In these conditions, the metallic compounds broke down, and a thin deposit of copper or silver was left on the surface of the glaze. When polished, this surface layer reflected the light.

Physical description

Dish after a metal shape, buff-coloured earthenware (fritware), flat with wide, broad rim, covered in tin-opacified white glaze, painted in yellow and red lustre (bi-chrome lustre), the design divided int oa simple quadrant with triangular panels each filled in with further patterning, foliate or geometric, probably inspired by engraved or repousse work on metalwork.

Place of Origin

Basra (probably, made)


ca. 850 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Tin-glazed earthenware (fritware) with lustre decoration


Diameter: 34.3 cm

Descriptive line

Dish, whiteware, with geometric design decorated with bi-chrome lustre; Iraq (probably Basra),ca. 850.

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

Kühnel, Ernst, "Die Abbasidischen Lüsterfayencen", Ars Islamica, I, 1934, p. 154, fig. 3

Labels and date

Jameel Gallery

Whiteware Dish with Lustre
Iraq, probably Basra
About 850

Like the glass cup below, this large, flat dish was painted in two colours of lustre, yellow and brown. This combination is thought to represent the earliest phase of lustre production in ceramics.

Earthenware with lustre painted over the opaque glaze
Museum no. C.45-1952
Purchased with the assistance of the National Art Collections Fund and the Bryan Bequest
White-glazed earthenware painted in yellow and brown lustre
MESOPOTAMIAN; mid 9th century [Used until 11/2003]


Clay; Opaque white glaze; Earthenware; Lustre


Lustre-painted; Glazing

Subjects depicted

Geometric patterns


Islam; Ceramics


Middle East Section

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