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  • Place of origin:

    Iran (made)
    Kashan (probably, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1200 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Fritware painted under the glaze in blue and black

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Islamic Middle East, Room 42, The Jameel Gallery, case WE7, shelf 2

The technique of painting under the glaze was still experimental when this bowl was made. Here, the blue pigment ran during firing. The handsome figures belong to Iran's Turkish-speaking upper class. Verses on the exterior describe unrequited passion for young men or women of high rank.

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.

Luxury copies of narrative poems were often illustrated with fine paintings. The more familiar episodes were depicted on palace walls and objects. Love lyrics accompanied portrayals of beautiful young men and women. Odes in praise of the ruler inspired enthronement scenes. The recitation of poems at court was depicted, as were princely activities such as hunting and playing polo.

Physical description

Footed bowl with a flat inverted rim decorated on the inside with three seated figures. These are three beardless youths with long side locks.

Place of Origin

Iran (made)
Kashan (probably, made)


ca. 1200 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Fritware painted under the glaze in blue and black

Marks and inscriptions

On the outside of the bowl, just below the rim, there is single band of inscriptions scratched through black paint. There is conventional benediction for the owner ('May the Creator protect its owner, wherever he may be'), and two quatrains. One presents love as an obsession, the other describes the pain it causes.


Diameter: 29.7 cm, Height: 12.6 cm

Descriptive line

Bowl, fritware, painted under the glaze in black and blue with three seated figures on the inside and verse in Persian beneath the rim on the outside, Iran (probably Kashan), about 1200.

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

Tim Stanley, Palace and Mosque: Islamic Art from the Middle East, London, V&A Publications, 2004, pp. 77, 83, 91, 116, and plate 97

Labels and date

Jameel Gallery

10–12 Dish and Bowls
Iran, probably Kashan

On each vessel, a single image is accompanied by verses in Persian concerned with frustrated love. The figures depicted stand for those who are loved but who do not love in return.

On the lustre dish, a young prince rides out to play polo. The first bowl shows one youth offering another a glass of wine, while his companion watches.

The gazelle on the second bowl is a metaphor for elusive beauty, which flees as the huntsman approaches.

11 Fritware painted under the glaze
Museum no. C.125-1931
[Jameel Gallery]
White earthenware painted in underglaze black and blue.
PERSIAN (KASHAN); early 13th century. [Old label]




Painted; Glazed

Subjects depicted

Scrolls; Wine cups; Flowers


Ceramics; Islam


Middle East Section

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