Slip-painted pottery bowl, with an archer on horseback

Found near Aleppo, Syria
13th century AD

This is a striking image of an archer drawing his bow and arrow, atop a rearing horse. The pose has been manipulated so as to fit into the round space as neatly as possible. Any remaining background space has been filled with curling scrolls of stylized plant stems and leaves.

The bowl is an example of two pottery techniques: sgraffito incised decoration and the contrasting splashware glazing. Both were popular means of decorating ceramics: they were widespread in Samanid Iran and cAbbasid Iraq in the ninth and tenth centuries, and also during the late Fatimid and Ayyubid periods (eleventh to thirteenth centuries) in Anatolia, Syria, Iraq and Egypt. Multicolour-painted sgraffito remained popular in Mamluk Egypt and Syria (1250-1516), where it began to feature inscriptions and heraldic devices rather than figurative subjects.

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More information


V. Porter and O. Watson, 'Tell Minis wares' in Syria and Iran: three studies (Oxford University Press, 1987), pp. 175-247

Géza Fehérvári, Pottery of the Islamic world i (Kuwait, Tareq Rajab Museum, 1998)

E. Atil, Ceramics from the world of Isl (Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D.C., 1973)

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


Diameter: 26.000 cm

Museum number

ME OA 1931.7-16.1



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