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Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Ceramics, Room 145

Bowl

1180-1220 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This beautiful decorative bowl features two mounted figures on either side of a golden tree. Below them are peacocks. Around the inside of the bowl are four pairs of seated figures, separated by arabesque motifs, in poses that suggest they are having a conversation.

The bowl has been decorated with enamel colours and gold painted over the glaze. The technique emerged in Iran in the 12th century. It was a revolutionary development in ceramic decoration that enabled potters to paint with more detail than ever before. The result was a whole genre of wares decorated with depictions of various human activities. There were scenes of people seated at court, hunting, playing polo, and even fighting in battles.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Fritware, polychrome inglaze and overglaze painted and gilded on opaque monochrome glaze (mina'i)
Brief Description
Bowl, fritware, painted in colours with depictions of seated and mounted men and two peacocks (mina'i ware); Iran (probably Kashan), 1180-1220.
Physical Description
Bowl, fritware, painted in colours, both inglaze and overglaze enamels with gold. Bowl is decorated with two horsemen in the centre on either side of a tree, and around the inside of the rim with four groups of seated figures alternating with medallions.
Dimensions
  • Height: 9.0cm
  • Diameter: 20.7cm
Marks and Inscriptions
Poetry (Persian; On inside rim and on outside rim)
Gallery Label
  • BOWL White earthenware painted in overglaze colours and gold. PERSIAN; late 12th or 13th century. Given by Col. Stephenson Clarke, C.B.(Old label)
  • Bowl with Men Speaking Iran, probably Kashan 1180-1220 Three pairs of men are in poses that suggest they are speaking. They may be reciting poetry to one another. A fourth pair in the centre, both on horseback, confront one another on either side of a golden tree, with peacocks below. They, too, seem to be speaking rather than fighting. Fritware, with colour in the glaze and enamels and gilding over the glaze Museum no. C.85-1918(Jameel Gallery)
Credit line
Given by Col. Stephenson Clarke C.B.
Object history
Morgan (1994) has divided mina'i wares into three basic categories; with relief decoration (non-figural), without relief decoration (non-figural), and without relief decoration (figural). This bowl represents type 3. Mina'i wares share three main charactertistics; they are made with a white composite fabric; they are covered with an opaque white, or occasionally, an opaque turquoise glaze which reaches the edge of the foot outside and is applied separately in the vertical footring; thirdly, the polychrome colours are applied over the glaze. The use of gold on this bowl and the skilled painting of the figures links it to the finest example of mina'i known, fragments of a bowl decorated with scenes from Firdausi's Shahnamah in the Khalili Collection POT875. The figurative decoration on Iranian pottery of the 12th and 13th centuries, and mina'i in particular, is thought to reflect a contemporary tradition of mural and manuscript painting.
Historical context
The general repertory of mina'i ware seems to reflect the iconography of the princely life; the entertainments of the court, hunting, polo and warfare. Many are also inscribed with poetry but so far little is known about the patrons of such wares nor the context in which they were used. Minai tilework also exists mosly from the Seljuk palace complex at Konya but some pieces have been recovered from Iran (Grube, 1976).
Production
Minai
Summary
This beautiful decorative bowl features two mounted figures on either side of a golden tree. Below them are peacocks. Around the inside of the bowl are four pairs of seated figures, separated by arabesque motifs, in poses that suggest they are having a conversation.



The bowl has been decorated with enamel colours and gold painted over the glaze. The technique emerged in Iran in the 12th century. It was a revolutionary development in ceramic decoration that enabled potters to paint with more detail than ever before. The result was a whole genre of wares decorated with depictions of various human activities. There were scenes of people seated at court, hunting, playing polo, and even fighting in battles.
Bibliographic References
  • Lane, Arthur. Early Islamic Pottery. London: Faber and Faber, 1947. Page 42, plate 69B.
  • Liefkes, Reino and Hilary Young (eds.) Masterpieces of World Ceramics in the Victoria and Albert Museum. London: V&A Publishing, 2008, pp. 40-41.
Collection
Accession Number
C.85-1918

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record createdNovember 12, 2003
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