Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Bowl

  • Place of origin:

    Iran (made)

  • Date:

    1180-1220 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Fritware with opaque cobalt-blue glaze and lustre-painted decoration

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mr C N Ades MBE in memory of his wife Andrée Ades

  • Museum number:

    C.161-1977

  • Gallery location:

    Ceramics, Room 145, case 35, shelf 3

This bowl is made from fritware (also called stone paste and quartz paste), an artificial ceramic body developed by Middle Eastern potters around the middle of the 11th century to imitate the hard, bright white body of imported Chinese porcelains. The main ingredient in fritware was fine quartz powder made by grinding sand or pebbles. Small quantities of white clay and a glassy substance known as frit were added – the clay to give plasticity, the frit to bind the body after firing. In the 12th and early 13th centuries, fritware was used in Kashan and other pottery centres in Iran to produce fine wares decorated in an astonishing range of styles.

The decoration of this bowl is painted in lustre, an overglaze technique using metallic pigments derived from silver and copper, first invented in Iraq in the early 9th century. The palmette scrolls have been painted under the glaze in cobalt blue pigment during a first production stage, and the lustre decoration has been painted on in a second phase. The flying ducks and fleshy palmettes are characteristic of the motifs used to decorate Kashan ceramics.

This vessel was part of a hoard that was deliberately buried by its owner, probably a merchant who lived in Jurjan in north-east Iran, or who was passing through the city. In 1220, Jurjan was threatened by a Mongol invasion. The merchant packed the vessels in sand inside large storage jars and buried them for safekeeping. Soon afterwards, Jurjan was completely destroyed by the Mongols, and the owner never returned to recover the hoard.

As a result, the vessels in this hoard survived together for almost 800 years, and in relatively good condition. The probable date of their burial also gives us a good indication of when the vessels in the hoard were made, as well as showing the wide variety of types of decoration that were used to make Iranian pottery at this time.

Physical description

Fritware bowl decorated with palmette scrolls in cobalt blue under the glaze, and flying birds in lustre over the glaze, surrounded by two bands of cursive inscriptions around the rim.

Place of Origin

Iran (made)

Date

1180-1220 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Fritware with opaque cobalt-blue glaze and lustre-painted decoration

Dimensions

Diameter: 20.5 cm, Height: 10.7 cm

Object history note

This vessel was part of a hoard that was deliberately buried by its owner, probably a merchant who lived in Jurjan in north-east Iran, or who was passing through the city. In 1220, Jurjan was threatened by a Mongol invasion. The merchant packed the vessels in sand inside large storage jars and buried them for safekeeping. Soon afterwards, Jurjan was completely destroyed by the Mongols, and the owner never returned to recover the hoard.As a result, the vessels in this hoard survived together for almost 800 years, and in relatively good condition. The probable date of their burial also gives us a good indication of when the vessels in the hoard were made, as well as showing the wide variety of types of decoration that were used to make Iranian pottery at this time.

Clement Ades gave a large number of objects found in the Jurjan hoard to the Victoria and Albert Museum at different times. Their object numbers are C.152 to 171-1977, and C.35 to 49-1978.

Descriptive line

Ceramic; Fritware bowl decorated with palmette scrolls in cobalt blue under the glaze, and flying birds in lustre over the glaze, surrounded by two bands of cursive inscriptions around the rim. Found at Jurjan. Iran, probably Kashan, before 1220.

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

The Gurgan Finds (London: Bluett and Sons Limited, 1976)
Oliver Watson, "Persian Wares", Connoisseur (January 1979), pp.13-19
Oliver Watson, Persian Lustre Ware (London: Faber and Faber, 1985)

Labels and date

BOWL
Earthenware painted in lustre.
Found at Jurjan.
PERSIAN (Kashan); early 13th century.
Given by Mr. C. N. Ades MBE in Memory of his wife, Andree Ades.
[old Islamic gallery label] [Used until 03/2004]

Production Note

probably Kashan

Materials

Fritware

Techniques

Lustre-painted

Categories

Ceramics; Lustre ware; Islam

Collection

Middle East Section

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.