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  • Place of origin:

    Iran (possibly Tabriz, made)

  • Date:

    1500-1550 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Fritware, painted under the glaze

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Islamic Middle East, Room 42, The Jameel Gallery, case WN9

The decoration on this dish has been painted under the green glaze. It features two fish and a Persian quatrain (a four-line verse).

The body of the dish is fritware, also known as stone paste or quartz paste. Middle Eastern potters developed the material as a response to the challenge posed by Chinese porcelain. The main ingredient was fine quartz powder made by grinding sand or pebbles. Small quantities of white clay and a glassy substance known as frit were added. The clay gave plasticity. The frit helped to bind the body after firing.

This piece was made in the 16th century, when ceramic production in Iran was on a modest scale. When the capital moved to Isfahan around 1600, the production of luxury dishes and wall tiles in a wide variety of styles and techniques rapidly increased.

Physical description

Dish with a foliate rim, decorated in underglaze black under a green glaze with fishes and a floral border, with Persian verses below the rim.

Place of Origin

Iran (possibly Tabriz, made)


1500-1550 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Fritware, painted under the glaze


Diameter: 35.3 cm, Height: 6.1 cm

Object history note

Brought from Kubachi (Daghestan).

Arthur Lane suggested that the glaze might have been intended to be the more traditional turquoise-tinted glaze, but as a result of too much lead in the copper glaze, it has turned this bright yellowish green in the firing process, (Lane, 1957, p. 78)

Descriptive line

Dish, fritware, painted in bluck with with paired fish and Persian verses, covered in a transparent green glaze, Iran, possibly Tabriz, 1500-1550.

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

Lisa Golombek, Robert B. Mason, Gauvin A. Bailey, Tamerlane's tableware : a new approach to the chinoiserie ceramics of fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Iran, Costa Mesa, California, 1996, p.152.
J. Michael Rogers, 'Ceramics', in R.W. Ferrier (ed.), The Arts of Persia, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1989, pp. 255-70, pl. 25.
Ernst J. Grube, 'Notes on the Decorative Arts of the Timurid Period,' in A. Forte et al. (eds.) Gururajamanjarika Studi in Onore di Giuseppe Tucci, Istituto Universitario Orientale, Naples, Vol. 1, 1974, pp. 233-80, fig. 20.
Arthur Lane, Later Islamic Pottery. London: Faber and Faber, 1957, pp. 36 & 78, pl. 52A.
Arthur Lane, 'The So-called 'Kubachi' Wares of Persia', Burlington Magazine, 75, pp.156-62, pl. Ic.
Arthur Upham Pope, A Survey of Persian Art, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1938, pl.788.

Labels and date

Jameel Gallery

Safavid Ceramics and Colour
Safavid potters created brilliantly coloured ceramics. The effect was often achieved with
glazes of a single colour. Many of these wares have moulded or carved decoration. The most unusual appears on bottles made in the 17th century, which bear scenes of people and animals.

A second technique used coloured slips, or liquid clay, under the glaze. Potters sometimes carved the slip away to reveal the white body beneath. In other cases, they added designs in white and other slips.

1 Dish with Two Fish
Fritware painted under a green glaze
Museum no. 552-1905
[Jameel Gallery]
White earthenware painted in black with under green glaze.
NORTH PERSIAN; secondhalf of the 15th century.
Brought from Kubachi in Daghestan (Caucasus). [Old 133G-1970s]

Production Note






Subjects depicted

Fish; Poetry; Floral patterns




Middle East Section

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