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 hunting dog

  • Literature notes

    The date of the introduction of underglaze-painting into Syria and Egypt, its origin and its early development, are much less clear than in the case of Iran (no. 10 [EA1978.231]). It would seem, however, that by about 1200 AD the technique had become widespread. Two bowl forms are common, one, as in this example, hemispherical with a broad flat rim [1], the other truncated conical with a tall cylindrical foot (no. 25 [EA1978.2196]). The latter is so similar to a common Kashan shape of the early thirteenth century (no. 11 [EA1978.2341]) that there must be a link between Syria and Iran at this period, but which way the possible influence is moving is as yet uncertain. What is definite, however, is that both derive from a metalwork shape of which there is a notable inlaid bronze example in the name of an officer of the early thirteenth century ruler of Mosul (in northern Iraq), Badr al-Din Lu’lu’.

    Syrian drawing on ceramics is much bolder than the drawings on contemporary Persian pots. Typical of the Syrian style are animals – hares, hunting dogs and deers – caught by the artist in an ‘arrested’ stance, one of their front paws raised, their heads turned to the rear. Their two back legs are usually unnaturally lengthened, ending in glorious curving brush-strokes. Such animal drawing looks back to the Fatimid period (969-1172) in Egypt, when the legacy of classical realism could still be felt, and animals and birds were popular elements in art.

    [Footnotes:]
    1. For this shape, see bowl 1978.2193 under no. 25.
  • Details

    Associated place
    Asia Syria (place of creation)
    Date
    1st half of the 13th century
    Material and technique
    fritware, with underglaze painting in blue and black
    Dimensions
    6.6 cm (height)
    27.5 cm (diameter)
    at foot 9.3 cm (diameter)
    Material index
    Technique index
    coveredcoated glazed,
    Object type index
    No. of items
    1
    Credit line
    Gift of Gerald Reitlinger, 1978.
    Accession no.
    EA1978.2183
  • Further reading

    Allan, James W., Islamic Ceramics, Ashmolean-Christie's Handbooks (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 1991), no. 22 on p. 38, illus. p. 39

    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. 362 on p. 125, illus. p. 125

    Porter, Venetia, Medieval Syrian Pottery (Raqqa Ware) (Oxford: Asmolean Museum, 1981), illus. p. 15 pl. VI

    Mason, Robert B., ‘Defining Syrian Stonepaste Ceramics: Petrographic Analysis of Pottery from Ma'arrat Al-Nu'man’, James Allan, ed., Islamic Art in the Ashmolean Museum, Part Two, Oxford Studies in Islamic Art, 10 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), x.2, p. 7

    London: Hayward Gallery, 8 April-4 July 1976, The Arts of Islam, Dalu Jones and George Michell, eds (London: Arts Council of Great Britian, 1976), no. 307 on p. 232

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

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.

 

Publications online

  • Islamic ceramics, by James W. Allan

    Islamic Ceramics

    The date of the introduction of underglaze-painting into Syria and Egypt, its origin and its early development, are much less clear than in the case of Iran (no. 10 [EA1978.231]). It would seem, however, that by about 1200 AD the technique had become widespread. Two bowl forms are common, one, as in this example, hemispherical with a broad flat rim [1], the other truncated conical with a tall cylindrical foot (no. 25 [EA1978.2196]). The latter is so similar to a common Kashan shape of the early thirteenth century (no. 11 [EA1978.2341]) that there must be a link between Syria and Iran at this period, but which way the possible influence is moving is as yet uncertain. What is definite, however, is that both derive from a metalwork shape of which there is a notable inlaid bronze example in the name of an officer of the early thirteenth century ruler of Mosul (in northern Iraq), Badr al-Din Lu’lu’.

    Syrian drawing on ceramics is much bolder than the drawings on contemporary Persian pots. Typical of the Syrian style are animals – hares, hunting dogs and deers – caught by the artist in an ‘arrested’ stance, one of their front paws raised, their heads turned to the rear. Their two back legs are usually unnaturally lengthened, ending in glorious curving brush-strokes. Such animal drawing looks back to the Fatimid period (969-1172) in Egypt, when the legacy of classical realism could still be felt, and animals and birds were popular elements in art.

    [Footnotes:]
    1. For this shape, see bowl 1978.2193 under no. 25.
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