Stonepaste bottle, painted in lustre with seated figures and prowling animals

From Kashan, Iran
Dated Muharram 575 AH, (AD 1179)

The earliest known piece of Kashan lustreware

This bottle is the earliest known dated Iranian example of the lustreware technique. Its neck is missing, and the body is in a fragmentary state, but much of the decoration is clearly visible. The main band shows a seated group of people, against a background of leafy ornament which suggests a garden setting. Below the garden-party is an inscription of a poem:

'Oh Heavenly sphere, why do you set afflictions before me?
Oh Fortune, why do you scatter salt on my wounds?
Oh Enemy of mine, how often will you strike at me?
I am struck by my own fate and fortune.
May joy, exultation and cheerfulness be with you.
May prosperity, happiness and triumph be your companions.'
(Translation: O. Watson)

Below the inscription is a succession of hounds chasing hares, against a simple pattern of curling vegetation. This is a popular subject on luxury objects, referring to the favourite noble pastime of hunting. A similar band is on the top of the bottle. The lowest band is decorated with a trellis of stylized curling plant stems.

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More information


O. Watson, Persian Lustreware (, 1985)

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

V. Porter, Islamic tiles (London, The British Museum Press, 1995)

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


Height: 14.300 cm

Museum number

ME OA 1920.3-26.1



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