Diameter: 21.600 cm
ME OA 1963.4-24.1
Room 34: The Islamic world
Dish with stamped decoration
9th century AD
This dish has been stamped with a rhyming couplet in four lines of Kufic script. The lines are from the Umayyad poet Muhammad Bashir ibn al-Khariji:
'Do not abandon hope, long though the quest may endure
You will find ease of heart, if only you are patient.'
Many of the decorative features used on the bowl recall metalwork techniques and conventions. For example, the background around the inscription has been stamped in raised dots, imitating repoussé technique in metalwork. A row of circles runs in a band around the rim of the dish: this is a common motif used in metalwork for the decoration of borders.
The yellow metallic sheen shows that the dish has been over-painted in lustre. Early lustre-painted ceramics may have copied the appearance of metal objects because they were an expensive display of status.
The 'peacock's eye' motif (a small circle, with a dot or smaller circle inside) was very popular in Islamic art. It also features in lustreware and may be an imitation of the appearance of the ancient technique of millefiori glass, examples of which have been found in ninth-century Iraq.
E. J. Grube and others, Cobalt and lustre: the first c (London, Nour Foundation, 1994)