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Bowl

  • Place of origin:

    Egypt (possibly, made)
    Syria (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    1200-1250 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Earthenware with lustre painting on an opaque white glaze

  • Museum number:

    C.47-1960

  • Gallery location:

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

The lustre decoration on this bowl portrays a harpy. These rapacious monsters, part human and part bird, featured in Greek and Roman mythology. This piece was found at Tell Minis, which has given its name to high-quality wares similar to earlier Egyptian pottery.

The technique of lustre decoration on ceramics was first developed in Iraq in the 9th century. Technical advances in lustre decoration made in Cairo were taken east to Syria in the 12th century.

Potters used the lustre technique to make their wares shine like gold. 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

White earthenware bowl painted in lustre with a harpy between two scrolls with very large leaves; the harpy wears a crown with two projections and her wing has a tiraz band with a pseudo-Kufic 'inscription' on it.

Place of Origin

Egypt (possibly, made)
Syria (possibly, made)

Date

1200-1250 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Earthenware with lustre painting on an opaque white glaze

Dimensions

Diameter: 22.2 cm, Height: 7.2 cm

Descriptive line

Lustre bowl with a harpy, made in Syria or Egypt, 1200-1250.

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

Louvre, L'Etrange et le Merveilleux en terres d'Islam. Catalogue of the Exhibition held at Musée du Louvre 23rd April - 23rd July, 2001. Paris: Editions de la Réunion des musée nationaux, 2001. ISBN 2-7118-4215-0.Cat. 105, p. 143

Labels and date

BOWL
White earthenware painted in lustre.
Said to have been found at Tell Minis near Ma'arat al Noman, between Aleppo and Hama.
SYRIAN; middle of 12th century. [Used until 11/2003]
Lustre Bowls
Syria
1150-1200 and 1200-50

Technical advances made in Cairo were taken east to Syria in the 12th century. The bowl with a harpy was found at Tell Minis, which has given its name to high-quality wares similar to earlier Egyptian pottery. The footed bowl belongs to a more common type named after the town of Raqqah, where it was produced.

Fritware with lustre painted over the glaze

Museum nos. C.150-1986; C.47-1960 [Jameel Gallery]

Production Note

Found at Tell Minis

Materials

Earthenware

Techniques

Glazing; Lustre-painted

Subjects depicted

Harpy; Scrollwork; Crown

Categories

Islam; Ceramics; Earthenware; Myths & Legends

Collection

Middle East Section

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