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  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Fine, thin-walled painted pottery bowl; handmade; plain interior; cream coloured with dark brown matt painted decoration on exterior, design consisting of three standing or dancing figures with stylised heads and raised hands, each separated by a bold geometric design; low foot ring; restored from sherds.


  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 4950BC-4250BC
  • Production place

    • Made in: Tall-i Bakun (?)
    • (Asia,Middle East,Iran,South Iran,Fars (province),Marv Dasht,Persepolis,Tall-i Bakun (Persepolis))
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Diameter: 27 centimetres (rim)
    • Height: 16 centimetres
    • Diameter: 5.5 centimetres (base)
  • Curator's comments

    Design typical of Sialk III (equivalent to Ubaid-Early Uruk periods of southern Mesopotamia) but in use earlier. The thrice-repeated design of a figure, in each case slightly different, suggests that the bowl should be viewed as it is rotated which thus enhances the visual effect of movement of the figures. The motif of a dancing figure, either single or grouped with others holding hands or arm in arm, was a popular one on prehistoric Iranian painted pottery and is found at the sites of Tepe Musiyan, Khazineh and Tepe Giyan in western Iran, Tepe Sialk on the plateau and Cheshmeh Ali in northern Iran. The figures are depicted with straight or slightly flexed legs and look in the same direction. The fact that they are evenly spaced reinforces an impression of rhythm.

    Further reading:

    Anne-Elizabeth Dunn-Vaturi, "Dancers in the Louvre. The Iranian and Cypriot Collections", 'Near Eastern Archaeology' 66/3 (September 2003), pp. 106-110.

    Yosef Garfinkel, "The Khazineh Painted Style of Western Iran", 'Iran' 38 (2000), pp. 57-70.

    Yosef Garfinkel, 'Dancing at the Dawn of Agriculture', Austin: University of Texas, 2003 (review in 'Near Eastern Archaeology').


  • Bibliography

    • Herzfeld 1929c fig. 13 bibliographic details
    • Collon 1995a p. 49, fig. 30 bibliographic details
    • Curtis 2000a p. 8 bibliographic details
    • Curtis 1989a p. 8, fig. 4 bibliographic details
    • Herzfeld E E 1941a pl. V: bottom bibliographic details
    • Von der Osten H H 1956a pl.3 bibliographic details
  • Location

    On display: G51/dc3

  • Exhibition history


    G2/172, from 13 Apr-Dec 2006.

    G52/IRAN/1, from official opening 17/11/95.

    Iranian Room [IR], wall-case [WC] 17/1, Jul 1975-ca 1990.

  • Condition

    Restored twice or more, once apparently following breakage of this and other vessels while on display during the 1930s (CHECK Reports to Trustees), then again by John Cooper (Ceramic Conservation) in 1995 when the plaster infill was removed.

  • Subjects

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Acquisition notes

    Division of excavated finds permitted by a decision of the Council of Ministers dated 23 July 1933, and communicated in a letter to Herzfeld dated 3 August that year (quoted by M.C. Majd, "The Great American Plunder of Persia's Antiquities 1925-1941", Lanham/NY/Oxford: University Press of America, 2003, pp.141-42). The acquisition of this collection was highlighted in the 'Annual Report of the General Progress of the Museums for the year 1936' (BM & BM (Natural History) 1937, pp. 10-11) as "A large collection of pottery, terracotta figurines, bronzes, seals and amulets, mainly from Persia, varying in date from before 3000 B.C., and for the most part from known sites; specially selected to illustrate periods not hitherto represented, or inadequately represented, in the collection".

  • Department

    Middle East

  • BM/Big number


  • Registration number


COMPASS Title: Painted bowl


COMPASS Title: Painted bowl

Image description



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