Tile thumbnail 1
Tile thumbnail 2
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Ceramics, Room 144, The Headley Trust Gallery

Tile

circa 1305 (made)
Place Of Origin

This tile represents a mihrab, the niche in a mosque that indicates the qiblah, the direction in which to pray. The lamp shown hanging in the mihrab associates the tile with a burial. In tombs, the presence of a mihrab indicated that the corpse was correctly aligned with the qiblah when it was buried. This means that the deceased will rise facing the qiblah when they are resurrected on the Day of Judgement.

It is thought that this tile and another, very similar piece in the V&A's collection (C.1977-1910) formed a pair that were placed at either end of a large, rectangular tomb marker in a grand tomb. Other tiles would have covered the top and sides of the marker.

Tiles of this type with lustre decoration were produced in Iran between 1200 and 1340 and were used to decorate palaces, mosques and shrines. They were produced by families whose work can be traced over several generations, and this example was made by a man called 'Ali ibn Ahmad ibn 'Ali ibn Abi'l-Hasan, who is known to have worked in the early 1300s.


object details
Object Type
Brief Description
Tile with moulded decoration in the form of a mihrab surrounded by a wide frame filled with an Arabic inscription, fritware under a tin glaze, with blue and turquoise painted into the glaze and lustre painted over the glaze, Iran, about 1305.
Dimensions
  • Height: 63.5cm
  • Width: 46cm
  • Depth: 6.5cm
converted from Imperial in register
Gallery Label
Tomb-marker Iran, probably Kashan, about 1300 Tin-glazed fritware, moulded and painted in colour, with lustre over the glaze(2009)
Summary
This tile represents a mihrab, the niche in a mosque that indicates the qiblah, the direction in which to pray. The lamp shown hanging in the mihrab associates the tile with a burial. In tombs, the presence of a mihrab indicated that the corpse was correctly aligned with the qiblah when it was buried. This means that the deceased will rise facing the qiblah when they are resurrected on the Day of Judgement.



It is thought that this tile and another, very similar piece in the V&A's collection (C.1977-1910) formed a pair that were placed at either end of a large, rectangular tomb marker in a grand tomb. Other tiles would have covered the top and sides of the marker.



Tiles of this type with lustre decoration were produced in Iran between 1200 and 1340 and were used to decorate palaces, mosques and shrines. They were produced by families whose work can be traced over several generations, and this example was made by a man called 'Ali ibn Ahmad ibn 'Ali ibn Abi'l-Hasan, who is known to have worked in the early 1300s.
Bibliographic References
  • The Arts of Islam, exhibition catalogue, Hayward Gallery, London, 1976, published London: The Arts Council of Great Britain, 1976, p.254, no. 375.
  • H. Wallis, Persian Ceramic Art in the Collection of F. Ducane Godman F.R.S., II The Thirteenth Century Lustre Wall-Tiles, London, 1894, pl. XVI
  • Oliver, Watson, Persian Lustre Ware, London: Faber and Faber, 1985, plate 125, pp. 122, 149, 179
Collection
Accession Number
1527-1876

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record createdNovember 4, 2003
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