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  • Place of origin:

    Kashan (probably, made)

  • Date:

    1180-1220 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Fritware, polychrome inglaze and overglaze painted and gilded on opaque monochrome glaze (mina'i)

  • Credit Line:

    Purchased with Art Fund support and the Byran Bequest

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Islamic Middle East, Room 42, The Jameel Gallery, case WE7, shelf 3

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 (probably, made)


1180-1220 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Fritware, polychrome inglaze and overglaze painted and gilded on opaque monochrome glaze (mina'i)

Marks and inscriptions

poetry verse
Persian; Kufic; around exterior rim


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, fritware, painted in colour with representation of courtly entertainments; 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.
pp.83, 91
Tim Stanley (ed.), with Mariam Rosser-Owen and Stephen Vernoit, Palace and Mosque: Islamic Art from the Middle East, London, V&A Publications, 2004

Labels and date

Jameel Gallery

13–15 Bowl, Vase and Bottle
Iran, Kashan

The bowl 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.

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

Fritware painted on a white glaze with in-glaze colours and over glaze enamels and gilding.
PERSIAN; late 12th century [Old label]

Production Note



Overglaze; Enamel; Fritware


Firing; Painting

Subjects depicted

Figures; Musicians; Princes


Islam; Ceramics


Middle East Section

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