Chinese style ceramic dish from Iran (Iran, about AD 1625–1650)
In addition to the economic exchanges between the east and west ends of the Silk Road, cultural and intellectual ideas could also flow. In particular, was the influence of style on craftsmen at either end of the Road.
Here an Iranian potter has imitated the much-admired Chinese blue-and-white style of ceramics. The cobalt blue colouring looks correct, as does the floral design. But Iranians simply didn’t have access to the right kinds of raw clay, meaning their imitation pottery lacks a certain finesse and delicacy.
The Chinese ambassador, Ch’en Ch’eng, who visited Afghanistan in 1414, saw the local blue-and-white ceramics and noted:
“The porcelain vessels are extremely fine, and on them are delicately drawn flowers and grass in fine colours. They are extremely beautiful but they do not match the light, blue, clear and sparkling ones of China. If such a vessel is hit, it makes no sound. The nature of clay is like this.”