Width: 34.900 cm
Gift of A.W. Franks
ME OA 1889.7-6.75
Room 34: The Islamic world
9th century AD
'The work of Abu Nasr of Basra in Egypt'
This small square platter has nine sections to hold a selection of delicacies. The shapes of the sections may refer to their intended contents, such as the four almond shapes at the corners, and the round section in the centre, moulded like the segments of a small orange.
Ninth-century lead-glazed ceramics with relief decoration have been found in sites in cAbbasid Egypt and Iraq. Basra, in south-eastern Iraq, was an important site of ceramic production during this period. It has been suggested that around this time civil unrest prompted the craftsmen of Basra to migrate to the relative stability of Egypt, where the Tulunid dynasty (AD 868-905) had recently become established. This would explain the artist's signature: he states specifically that he is from Basra, but is now working in Egypt.
E. J. Grube and others, Cobalt and lustre: the first c (London, Nour Foundation, 1994)