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

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Bottle with antelope in a landscape

Glossary (3)

fritware, glaze, lustre

  • 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).

  • glaze

    Vitreous coating applied to the surface of a ceramic to make it impermeable or for decorative effect.

  • lustre

    Metallic sheen obtained by applying a mixture of metallic oxides onto an already glazed ceramic that is refired at a reduced atmosphere.


    • First floor | Room 31 | Islamic Middle East

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Collection trails

Publications online

  • Islamic ceramics, by James W. Allan

    Islamic Ceramics

    By the middle of the fourteenth century lustre production had gone into serious decline in Iran. Two objects and a small number of inscription tiles and tombstones ranging in date from 1418 – 1560 are all the evidence of its survival prior to c. 1650. Then there appears to have been something like a renaissance, with objects decorated in lustre, becoming common once more, and the quality of workmanship often of a very high standard.

    Both in colour of lustre, and in design, there are major changes from earlier traditions. The bright, golden lustre now gives off a rich purple reflection, which adds to the luxurious impact of the finest pieces. The decoration includes animals (here an antelope and two foxes), birds, cypress trees and a variety of flowers, densely painted, but in a delicate, naturalistic style. These almost certainly derive from the gold-painted, marginal illuminations of contemporary books, while the more formal arabesques in cartouches around the rim of the plate illustrated here can be imagined framing frontispieces or illustrations in such works. Once again we see how innovation in Islamic ceramic design was so often due to the influence of manuscript illuminators (cf. nos. 13-14 [EAX.3102 & EA1956.36]).

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