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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Bowl with petalled decoration

  • Literature notes

    A slip is a semi-fluid coloured clay used either for coating an earthenware vessel or for decorating it before glazing. Here the body of the bowl is buff, and it has been covered with a white slip as a ground colour. A thick brown slip has been used for the painted design and the pot has finally been covered with a transparent yellow glaze, giving it a visually robust impact. Slip painting was very common in North-east Iran and Transoxania (the lands beyond the Oxus) in the ninth - tenth centuries, under the Samanid dynasty, and less pretentious products using the same technique are found throughout central Iran during the same period.

    The design combines the Islamic taste for radial designs on ceramics, in particular stellar and cruciform patterns, with calligraphy. A cruciform ornament dominates, but as so often in Islamic pottery, a secondary cross fills out the spaces, thus completing the effect and providing the visual balance evidently desired by both craftsmen and client. The calligraphy on this bowl is difficult to recognise, but the thinly-painted filler ornament of the central circle and of each radial segment is in fact derived from kufic (geometrically-formed) Arabic script. It cannot be read, but it was probably intended to convey, symbolically, the good wishes which such inscriptions normally contained.
  • Details

    Associated place
    Asia Iran (place of creation)
    Date
    10th century (AD 901 - 1000)
    Material and technique
    earthenware, with white slip ground, and 'yellow-staining' black slip decoration
    Dimensions
    7.2 cm (height)
    25.6 cm (diameter)
    Material index
    Technique index
    Object type index
    No. of items
    1
    Credit line
    Presented by Sir Alan Barlow, 1956.
    Accession no.
    EA1956.91
  • Further reading

    Allan, James W., Islamic Ceramics, Ashmolean-Christie's Handbooks (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 1991), no. 6 on p. 14, illus. p. 15

    Allan, James W., Medieval Middle Eastern Pottery (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 1971), p. 14, illus. p. 16 pl. 10

    Fehérvári, Géza, Islamic Pottery: A Comprehensive Study Based on the Barlow Collection (London: Faber and Faber, 1973), no. 25 on p. 55, pl. 14 b

    Watson, Oliver, Ceramics from Islamic Lands (London: Thames & Hudson, 2004)

    Lane, Arthur, Early Islamic Pottery: Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Persia, Faber Monographs on Pottery and Porcelain (London: Faber and Faber, 1947), p. 18, pl. 19 b

Glossary (2)

earthenware, slip

  • earthenware

    Ceramic material made of clay which is fired to a temperature of c.1000-1200⁰c. The resulting ceramic is non-vitreous and varies in colour from dark red to yellow.

  • slip

    A semi-fluid clay applied to a ceramic before glazing either to coat the surface or for decorative effect.

Location

    • First floor | Room 31 | Islamic Middle East

Objects are sometimes moved to a different location. Our object location data is usually updated on a monthly basis. Contact the Jameel Study Centre if you are planning to visit the museum to see a particular object on display, or would like to arrange an appointment to see an object in our reserve collections.

 

Collection trails

Publications online

  • Islamic ceramics, by James W. Allan

    Islamic Ceramics

    A slip is a semi-fluid coloured clay used either for coating an earthenware vessel or for decorating it before glazing. Here the body of the bowl is buff, and it has been covered with a white slip as a ground colour. A thick brown slip has been used for the painted design and the pot has finally been covered with a transparent yellow glaze, giving it a visually robust impact. Slip painting was very common in North-east Iran and Transoxania (the lands beyond the Oxus) in the ninth - tenth centuries, under the Samanid dynasty, and less pretentious products using the same technique are found throughout central Iran during the same period.

    The design combines the Islamic taste for radial designs on ceramics, in particular stellar and cruciform patterns, with calligraphy. A cruciform ornament dominates, but as so often in Islamic pottery, a secondary cross fills out the spaces, thus completing the effect and providing the visual balance evidently desired by both craftsmen and client. The calligraphy on this bowl is difficult to recognise, but the thinly-painted filler ornament of the central circle and of each radial segment is in fact derived from kufic (geometrically-formed) Arabic script. It cannot be read, but it was probably intended to convey, symbolically, the good wishes which such inscriptions normally contained.
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Object information may not accurately reflect the actual contents of the original publication, since our online objects contain current information held in our collections database. Click on 'buy this publication' to purchase printed versions of our online publications, where available, or contact the Jameel Study Centre to arrange access to books on our collections that are now out of print.

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