The Mongol invasions of Iran in the early 13th century severely disrupted all economic activities in the region, including the pottery industry. Political stability was restored in the second half of the century with the establishment of the Mongol rulers of Iran (or Il-Khans). The links of the Il-Khans with the Great Khans of China fostered extensive contacts and trade across Asia.
Pottery production in Iran fully resumed in the second half of the 13th century. The production of the period is characterized by new, robust vessel shapes, new patterns, and often somber colouring. This bowl typifies the new style, with its palette of white and black against a grey background. The phoenixes depicted in the interior of the bowl are one of the motifs of Far Eastern origin, which were introduced in the Middle East at this time. Probably inspired by textiles and other luxury goods imported from China during the Mongol period, they became part of the Islamic decorative repertoire in all media.
Allan, James W., Islamic Ceramics, Ashmolean-Christie's Handbooks (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 1991), no. 19 on p. 34, illus. p. 35
Allan, James W., Medieval Middle Eastern Pottery (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 1971), pp. 38 & 39, illus. p. 41 pl. 36
Fehérvári, Géza, Islamic Pottery: A Comprehensive Study Based on the Barlow Collection (London: Faber and Faber, 1973), no. 160 on p. 124, pl. 66 b
Morgan, Peter, ‘Some Far Eastern Elements in Coloured-ground Sultanabad Wares’, James Allan, ed., Islamic Art in the Ashmolean Museum, Part Two, Oxford Studies in Islamic Art, 10 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), x.2, no. 8 on p. 37, p. 30, illus. p. 30 fig. 12
fritware, slip, underglaze painting
Ceramic material composed of ground quartz and small quantities of clay and finely ground frit (frit is obtained by pouring molten glass into water).
A semi-fluid clay applied to a ceramic before glazing either to coat the surface or for decorative effect.
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.
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