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  • Place of origin:

    Iran (made)

  • Date:

    late 17th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Fritware with glazing

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Islamic Middle East, Room 42, The Jameel Gallery, case WN9

The decoration on this footed goblet is a combination of dense lustre over clear and cobalt blue glazes. This is a feature of many lustre wares produced in Iran during the period 1650-1700.

Around 1650, a group of Iranian potters revived the technique of lustre decoration, which had not been used on any scale in Iran for three centuries. We do not know how the technique was revived, or where the potters produced their distinctive wares. The 17th-century lustre ware included a wide range of small vessels, such as this goblet.

Physical description

Goblet with foot and slightly lobed shape. Deep cobalt blue lustre on exterior and cream interior with red floral decoration. The outer decoration has floral decorations on the bowl, with stripes of lustre on the foot. The inner decoration has a decoration round the rim consisting of an abstract squiggly design between two lines.

Place of Origin

Iran (made)


late 17th century (made)



Materials and Techniques

Fritware with glazing


Diameter: 14.3 cm, Height: 13.4 cm

Historical context note

In ceramic production, compounds of copper and silver were used to create the shiny, metallic decoration known as lustre. It was a two-stage process. In the first stage, the glazed pot was produced in the normal way by firing in a kiln. In the second, a design was painted over the glaze using the metallic compounds, and the pot was refired at a lower temperature in a kiln with a restricted supply of oxygen. During this second firing, the heat converted the metallic compounds into oxides, and the carbon monoxide produced by the fire then drew the oxygen out of the oxides, leaving the metal as a thin deposit on the vessel. The result was a surface with an attractive golden glow. Both these forms of decoration - blue-and-white and lustre - were to have a very long history, and they are both still in use today.

The designs of Safavid lustre owe nothing to the Chinese, but are purely Iranian. Their source is not precisely identifiable, the motifs are a mixture of the sort of decoration found in contemporary manuscript illumination, see Pope (1939; pls 892-93, 896-98. 974-75 etc.) and designs developed specifically for ceramics, such as the arabesques and floral designs found on slip-painted wares (cat. U.25.U26). The relationship ends there though. The range of shapes, the materials and details of making indicate that it is a separate production.

Descriptive line

Footed goblet decorated in cobalt and lustre, Iran, late 17th century.

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

Watson, Oliver. Persian Lustre Ware, London, 1985, p. 165 and Colour Plate P
Alan Caiger-Smith, Lustre Pottery: Technique, Tradition and Innovation in Islam and the Western World, London, 1985, p.197

Labels and date

Jameel Gallery

Safavid Lustre
About 1650, a group of Safavid potters revived the technique of lustre decoration. This had not been used on any scale in Iran for three centuries. It is not known how the technique was revived, or where the potters produced their distinctive wares.

The 17th-century lustre ware included a wide range of small vessels. The dense lustre decoration was applied over clear or cobalt blue glazes. The two are often combined on the same piece.

22–26 Lustre Bowl, Goblet, Bottle, Pot and Ewer
Fritware with lustre over clear and coloured glazes
Museum nos. C.1965-1910, Bequest of George Salting; 557-1889; C.59-1952, Purchased with the assistance of the National Art Collections Fund and the Bryan Bequest; 561-1889; 924-1876

Subjects depicted



Ceramics; Drinking; Lustre ware


Middle East Section

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