Eastern Art Online, Yousef Jameel Centre for Islamic and Asian Art

Ashmolean − Eastern Art Online, Yousef Jameel Centre for Islamic and Asian Art

Islamic Ceramics

A select catalogue of the Ashmolean's collection of ceramics from the Islamic world from the 9th to 18th century, by James Allen (published Oxford, 1991).

Islamic ceramics, by James W. Allan

Publications online: 46 objects

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Tankard with blue stripes

  • Literature notes

    The influence of metalwork recurs in Islamic ceramics. Here a small but interesting feature derived from metalwork is the latch handle on the tankard, which was common on earlier bronzes and contemporary inlaid brasses but is a somewhat impractical shape in clay.

    The frit ware bodies of the tankard and bowl are used to good effect as a white ground for the bright blue stripes under the glaze. The use of such stripes gives the pieces a very modern look, and indeed they were probably appreciated in the 13th century as they are today for their very abstract designs. In a medieval Islamic context, however, they were also almost certainly interpreted in a symbolic way. The symbolism of the Sun has already been discussed (no. 10 [EA1978.2311]). Here the radiating blue lines on the bowl remind us of the Sun’s rays, and the solar symbolism is further enhanced by the central bird figure. For the ability of birds to fly up into the sky relates them to the heavens, and it is of course in the heavens that the Sun has his residence.
  • Details

    Associated place
    Asia Iran (place of creation)
    Date
    early 13th century
    Material and technique
    fritware, with underglaze painting in blue
    Dimensions
    12 x 18.4 x 16 cm max. (height x width x depth)
    at foot 8.6 cm (diameter)
    Material index
    Technique index
    Object type index
    No. of items
    1
    Credit line
    Gift of Gerald Reitlinger, 1978.
    Accession no.
    EA1978.2347
  • Further reading

    Allan, James W., Islamic Ceramics, Ashmolean-Christie's Handbooks (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 1991), no. 12 on p. 24, illus. p. 25

    Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 18 July-13 September 1981, and London: Sotheby Parke Bernet, 1981, Eastern Ceramics and Other Works of Art from the Collection of Gerald Reitlinger: Catalogue of the Memorial Exhibition, Deborah Willis, ed. (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum and London: Sotheby Parke Bernet, 1981), no. 301 on p. 107, illus. p. 107

Glossary (2)

fritware, underglaze painting

  • fritware

    Ceramic material composed of ground quartz and small quantities of clay and finely ground frit (frit is obtained by pouring molten glass into water).

  • underglaze painting

    Painting applied to ceramic material before a transparent, or monochrome or coloured glaze for Islamic objects, is applied. The technique was initially developed in China.

Location

    • First floor | Room 31 | Islamic Middle East

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Publications online

  • Islamic ceramics, by James W. Allan

    Islamic Ceramics

    The influence of metalwork recurs in Islamic ceramics. Here a small but interesting feature derived from metalwork is the latch handle on the tankard, which was common on earlier bronzes and contemporary inlaid brasses but is a somewhat impractical shape in clay.

    The frit ware bodies of the tankard and bowl are used to good effect as a white ground for the bright blue stripes under the glaze. The use of such stripes gives the pieces a very modern look, and indeed they were probably appreciated in the 13th century as they are today for their very abstract designs. In a medieval Islamic context, however, they were also almost certainly interpreted in a symbolic way. The symbolism of the Sun has already been discussed (no. 10 [EA1978.2311]). Here the radiating blue lines on the bowl remind us of the Sun’s rays, and the solar symbolism is further enhanced by the central bird figure. For the ability of birds to fly up into the sky relates them to the heavens, and it is of course in the heavens that the Sun has his residence.
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