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  • Place of origin:

    Samarqand (probably, made)

  • Date:

    1400-1450 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Fritware with underglaze painted decoration

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

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

A pottery workshop was established at the court at Samarqand around 1401 under the patronage of Timur, the Uzbek ruler. Timur had invaded Syria, and forced potters from Damascus to move to Samarqand. Timur was a great patron of art and culture, and having established his court, he needed craftsmen to supply luxury wares. At the time, Chinese porcelain was available in sufficient quantities to be used as tablewares for dining, but supplies had ceased with the fall of the Yuan dynasty. This dish is a close copy of Chinese Yuan dynasty originals, possibly imitating examples included in the spoils from his campaigns in Syria.

Fritware shards painted in blue imitating Chinese prototypes have been found in Samarqand (cf. C.189-1911). The petrofabric of this dish reveals that the quartz, a crucial component, was derived from sand rather than the usual river pebbles used in Iranian technology to make the body. This confirms that the potters from Damascus working in Samarqand, had brought their technology with them.

Physical description

Dish, fritware, with flat rim, underglaze painted in cobalt blue under a thick, uneven green-tinged glaze. The decorative scheme after Chinese Yuan and early Ming dynasty originals: the central motif depicting a scholar's rock enclosed by a scrolling vine, possibly convolvulus, with borders of continuous flowering scrolls.

Place of Origin

Samarqand (probably, made)


1400-1450 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Fritware with underglaze painted decoration


Diameter: 38.5 cm, Height: 6.4 cm

Object history note

In Oliver Watson, 'Islamic Pots in Chinese Style', Burlington Magazine, 1987 (May), pp.304-6, suggested a Syrian origin for this piece.

Descriptive line

Dish, fritware, underglaze painted in cobalt blue with vine scroll in Chinese style, Uzbekistan (probably Samarqand), 1400-1450.

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

Lisa Golombek, Robert B. Mason, Gauvin A. Bailey,Tamerlane's tableware : a new approach to the chinoiserie ceramics of fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Iran, Costa Mesa, California, (Mazda Publishers in association with Royal Ontario Museum) 1996, p. 152, and Pl. 24.
Oliver Watson, 'Islamic Pots in Chinese Style', Burlington Magazine, 1987 (May), pp.304-6, pl. 20.

Labels and date

Jameel Gallery

Dish with Vine
Uzbekistan, probably Samarqand

Middle Eastern potters soon began to make copies of Chinese blue-and-white porcelain. This dish is the work of potters from Damascus in Syria. In 1402, their city was conquered by the Uzbek ruler Timur. He forced the potters to move to his capital, Samarqand, where the dish was produced.

Fritware painted under the glaze

Museum no. C.206-1984 [Jameel Gallery]
Fritware, with underglaze painted decoration.
SYRIA; about 1400 to 1450
The motifs copy a mixture of designs found on late 14th and early 15th century Chinese blue-and- white porcelains [Used until 11/2003]

Production Note

Made by Syrian potters transplanted from Damascus to Samarqand by Timur in 1402.





Subjects depicted

Vine scroll


Ceramics; Islam


Middle East Section

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