Slip Painted Bowl with a Star Motif - X.0651
Origin: Nishapur or Transoxiana, Iran
Circa: 8 th Century AD to 10 th Century AD
Dimensions: 2.75" (7.0cm) high x 7.875" (20.0cm) wide
Collection: Islamic / Near Eastern
Style: Slip Painted Wares
Medium: Earthenware


This exceptional bowl is made of earthenware and features a red ground slip with black, “yellow-staining black” and white slip painted decoration. The central scrolling motif is within a large six pointed star that covers the majority of the bowl. Throughout the remaining space, unusual stylized leaves and foliage are highlighted by the use of “yellow staining” black pigment that exudes its golden hues under firing. The entire bowl would have been under a transparent glaze. The beautiful contrast of the colors gives the effect of a bejeweled masterpiece replete with gold gilding. The Khalili collection has a large bowl which it attributes to the production centers of Samarqand and Transoxiana. The bowl has a somewhat similar geometric shape at the heart of its central medallion. (Earnst J. Grube, Cobalt and Lustre, Bowl 109. Accession No. POT805).
While there is no religious meaning behind the shapes which decorate this outstanding bowl, Geza Fehervari, in his catalogue of the Tareq Rajab Museum in Kuwait, notes that pieces have been found, one of which is a jug in the collection (No. 50 CER94TSR), decorated with what appears to be Hebrew lettering. During the School of Oriental and African Studies’(University of London) excavations at Ghubayra in Kirman province shards with Hebrew lettering were also found. This may imply that of the large Jewish communities known to have been living in Nishapur, as well as many other Iranian towns, some of them may have been artisans and potters.

Based on the distinctive vivid colors, style and design of this outstanding bowl, we can attribute it to originating from Nishapur, eastern Iran. (See Charles K.Wilkinson, Nishapur: Pottery of the Early Islamic Period, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York,1973; ch.5 nos 19-23). The use of the “yellow-staining black” pigment also allies it to another Nishapuri ware (Section Gd). The simple but effective repetitive design and the use of dotted bands anticipate later regional Iranian slipwares, particularly Sari ware.

For other comparable pieces see Oliver Watson, Ceramics from Islamic Lands, cataloging the Al-Sabah Collection in the Kuwait National Museum, 2004. Cat. GB.14 Bowl.

Also, Geza Fehervari, Ceramics of the Islamic World in the Tareq Rajab Museum, No.60. CERII9TSR. - (X.0651)




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