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Bowl

  • Place of origin:

    Kashan, Iran (probably, made)

  • Date:

    1180-1220 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown (production)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Fritware, glazed and overpainted with enamel

  • Credit Line:

    Purchased with the assistance of The Art Fund and the Bryan Bequest

  • Museum number:

    C.52-1952

  • Gallery location:

    Islamic Middle East, room 42, case WE7, shelf 3

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The decoration on this bowl shows a young prince surrounded by companions. They play the lute, drink wine and sing or declaim poetry.

In many Islamic societies, scenes containing humans and animals were a common type of decoration in non-religious contexts. The source of this imagery was usually poetry, the most highly esteemed form of secular literature.

Physical description

Bowl with fritware body, overpainted with enamel. On interior, seven figures seated crosslegged around central enthroned figure. Exterior Kufic inscription.

Place of Origin

Kashan, Iran (probably, made)

Date

1180-1220 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown (production)

Materials and Techniques

Fritware, glazed and overpainted with enamel

Marks and inscriptions

poetry verse

Dimensions

Diameter: 17.8 cm

Object history note

Morgan (1994) has divided mina'i wares into three categories: With relief decoration (non-figural), without relief decoration (non-figural), and without relief decoration (figural). This bowl belongs to type three. Minai wares share three characteristics; they are made with a white composite fabric, covered with an opaque white or occasionally opaque turquoise glaze which reaches the edge of the foot outside and is applied seperately in the vertical footring and thirdly the polychrome colours are applied over the glaze. The composition of this piece is quite typical, a series of figures seated around the central more important figure of a prince or ruler (for typical examples see Pope, Survey, 1939, pls 659a, 661, 663a, 668, 694a). Occasionally figures may appear in medallions (Khalili, 1994, vol. XI, pl 239).

Historical context note

The general repertory of mina'i 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. Mina'i tilework exists from the Seljuk palace of Kaykubad in Konya, Turkey as well as from Iran (Grube, 1976).

Descriptive line

Bowl with representation of court entertainment, Iran (probably Kashan), 1180-1220.

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

Lane, Arthur. Early Islamic Pottery (London: Faber and Faber, 1947), colour plate D.
Grube, E. Islamic Pottery, 1976, p. 208.
Morgan, P. "Iranian stone-paste pottery of the Saljuq period. Types and techniques," Cobalt and Lustre, 1994, pp. 155-169.
Tim Stanley ed., with Mariam Rosser-Owen and Stephen Vernoit, Palace and Mosque: Islamic Art from the Middle East, London, V&A Publications, 2004; p. 83, 91, plate 61

Exhibition History

Palace and Mosque: Islamic Art from the Victoria and Albert Museum (The Millennium Galleries, Sheffield 14/01/2006-16/04/2006)
Palace and Mosque: Islamic Art from the Victoria and Albert Museum (Setagaya Art Museum, Tokyo 01/10/2005-04/12/2005)
Palace and Mosque: Islamic Art from the Victoria and Albert Museum (Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas 03/04/2005-04/09/2005)
Palace and Mosque: Islamic Art from the Victoria and Albert Museum (National Gallery of Art, Washington 18/07/2004-06/02/2005)

Labels and date

BOWL
Fritware painted on a white glaze with in-glaze colours and over glaze enamels and gilding.
PERSIAN; late 12th century [Old label]
13-16 Four Vessels
Iran, Kashan
1180-1220

The bowl on the left shows a young prince surrounded by companions. They play the lute, drink wine and sing or declaim poetry. The vase depicts an older participant at such a party, wine glass in hand.

In the poetry recited at such entertainments, the gazelle was often a metaphor for elusive
beauty. Appropriately, the gazelle on the second bowl is surrounded by Persian verses.

Verses are also found on the bottle. This was modelled on similar containers made of
precious metal, which were used for wine drunk at court revelries.

13 Fritware with enamels and gilding over the glaze
Museum no. C.52-1952
Purchased with the assistance of the National Art Collections Fund and the Bryan Bequest

14 Fritware with colour in and lustre over the glaze
Ades Family Collection

15-16 Fritware with lustre over and (bowl only) colour in the glaze. Bowl signed by Muhammad son of Muhammad Nishapuri in Kashan
Museum nos. C.162, 165-1977
Given by Mr C.N. Ades, MBE, in memory of his wife, Andrée Ades [Jameel Gallery]

Production Note

Kashan

Materials

Enamel; Fritware; Overglaze

Techniques

Painting; Firing

Subjects depicted

Figures; Musicians; Princes

Categories

Islam; Ceramics

Collection code

MES

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Qr_O85911
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