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Spouted jar

Spouted jar

  • Place of origin:

    Iran (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1600-1700 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Fritware, slip-painted, turquoise glazed

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Ceramics, Room 137, The Curtain Foundation Gallery, case 31, shelf 1

This pouring vessel with a long spout may have been used in public or court bathhouses in Safavid Iran. The form is archaic and known in metalware from Iran's Bronze Age, about 2000 BC (BM 1913,1229.7), however, it is a very practical shape and may have served different purposes over time. A similar vessel is carried by partially dressed dancers associated with the harem, in two colourful rectangular tile panels, c. 1600-40, probably made in Isfahan for a Safavid palace or bathhouse, and now in the VAM (C.306 & 307-1879).

Each figure has hands coloured orange-red, presumably the result of the application of a paste made from the leaves of henna, which when left on overnight produced a stain, which was highly admired. The darker the henna, suggests the evidence of wealth, as it was produced using costly essential perfumes and oil, whereas a paler colour indicates that water was used a binder. That both hands are stained is further evidence of an elite lifestyle indicating that a skilled henna artist has applied the stain.

This spouted vessel may have been used by men and women to rinse their hair and body, washing off residue soap and oils, or perhaps, the henna used to dye their hair and hands. Bathhouses, an important focal point of daily life, were traditionally decorated with luxurious glazed tiles lining the pools and tile panels ornamenting the walls.

Physical description

Pouring vessel or spouted jar, fritware, of baluster shape, tapering towards the foot with spreading foot, the neck having a long projecting spout, ornamented around the rim with small dots of slip, repeated as four-, six- and eight-dot lozenges on the collar and shoulder, covered with an opaque turquoise-coloured glaze.

Place of Origin

Iran (made)


ca. 1600-1700 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Fritware, slip-painted, turquoise glazed


Height: 13.3 cm, Diameter: 15.9 cm

Descriptive line

Spouted jar, fritware, covered with an opaque turquoise-coloured glaze with embossed dotted ornament, Iran, 17th century

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

Soustiel, Jean. La céramique islamique. Le guide du connaisseur. Fribourg, Office du Livre, 1985. ISBN 2-8264-0002-9. Pl. 337, p. 305
Lane, Arthur. Later Islamic Pottery. London: Faber and Faber, 1957. 133p., ill. Pages 71, 73, 108, plate 92B




Relief; Glazed




Middle East Section

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