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Fritware bowl, painted with an enthroned ruler and his attendants

 

Diameter: 21.100 cm

Bequeathed by Sir Oscar Raphael

ME OA 1945.10-17.261

Room 34: The Islamic world

    Fritware bowl, painted with an enthroned ruler and his attendants

    From Kashan, Iran
    AD 1187

    A 'Seven colour' ceramic

    The scene shows a ruler sitting on his throne in a garden, surrounded by attendants. A visitor sits on a cushion opposite, perhaps a minister making his report to the sovereign. A decorated canopy above their heads suggests that the audience is taking place in an open tent. There are cypress trees and a fishpond, standard features of a nobleman's garden. On a cream-underglazed background, the artist has drawn decorative patterns, such as the tent-canopy, clothing, trees and fishpond.

    This type of luxury ceramic is known as haft rang, or 'seven colour', or mina'i enamelled ware, as it could be painted in a range of colours. The technique was developed in twelfth-century Iran. First the bowl is given a transparent or cream glaze, and is fired in the kiln. A colourful scene is then painted over the glaze, and the bowl is fired again, at a lower temperature.

    The maker of this bowl has signed his work. His name is Abu Zayd, a master potter of medieval Kashan, who also specialized in lustreware and underglaze-painted ceramics.

    R. Ettinghausen and O.Grabar, The art and architecture of Is (Pelican History of Art, 1987)

    B. Brend, Islamic art (London, The British Museum Press, 1991)

    E. J. Grube and others, Cobalt and lustre: the first c (London, Nour Foundation, 1994)

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    On display: Room 34: The Islamic world

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