African designs, £9.99
Diameter: 43.000 cm
Depth: 9.000 cm
Africa, Oceania, Americas
From Morocco, late 20th century AD
This plate is decorated with an arabesque design in blue and white glaze. It was made using a potting wheel, which in North Africa is used exclusively in towns and cities, and range in type from electric, foot-propelled to hand-turned varieties.
Moroccan potters distinguish between two types of decoration. Designs placed onto pots before glazing are called baldi, and are used on pots for domestic use as well as marriage drums and Ramadan vessels. In Fez, baldi pottery is believed to be the original pottery of the region.
Rumi refers to patterns applied over the glaze. These pots are used for special occasions. Regarded as typical of Fez, locals believe rumi ware to have originated from foreign sources, as rumi means 'Roman'.
The tourist market has had some effect on Moroccan pottery designs and techniques. Traditionally, chipped pots are not regarded as spoilt and spacers were used in kilns to ensure some blemish around the lip or neck of the pot. Some potters now correct those pots for the tourist trade. Tourism has also created a new style of pottery, the tagine dish. Such dishes are made of brown ware for the traditional Moroccan stew (tagine). Modern tagine dishes are made to 'age' and are covered in brass strips. Elsewhere in Morocco potters develop new patterns based on Koranic script and calligraphy.
N. Barley, Smashing pots, feats of clay f (London, The British Museum Press, 1994)