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HOME : Islamic Art : Islamic Moulds : Islamic Terracotta Mould
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Islamic Terracotta Mould - RP.107
Origin: Central Asia
Circa: 1000 AD to 1200 AD
Dimensions: 2" (5.1cm) high x 5.25" (13.3cm) wide
Collection: Islamic Art
Medium: Terracotta

Location: UAE
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Given the elaborate nature of the decoration on many of the Islamic bowls, dishes, ewers and other forms of utilitarian pottery, artisans easily created moulds from which many copies could be easily and efficiently made for commercial production. The making and supplying of moulds became a distinct trade, with skilled designers able to supply numerous workshops enabling them to make wares of quality which they could not manage on their own.

There were even master moulds made from “negatives” (a series of moulds for dissemination among commercial potters). The master mould would show all the decoration as it would appear on the final item. The “Negative” would reveal the decoration in mirror image and reversed so that the relief decoration would show as incised which on the final object would appear in relief on the negative mould.

Moulds were made to shape each of the top and the bottom of vessels as well as the inside and the outside of vessels. The master mould would be formed in clay and hard fired with the design of the final product. It would then be used to generate the negative moulds. Soft clay would be pressed around the master and then separated by splitting the negative mould either horizontally or vertically. These negatives would in turn be used to create impressions in two or more parts that would be attached together, often creating visible seams on the final item.

Ceramic moulds have to be made of an absorbent material which dries the surface of the clay pushed into it causing it to shrink slightly and detach from the mould walls. The moulded piece could then be removed from the mould without sticking or spoiling. The mould would next have to be dried before being used again. This would be a relatively slow process even in a hot climate.

The master mould would have been used to create other moulds of the upper half of a vessel such as a jug or pitcher. The top of the soft clay impression would have been cut away and have a neck or spout attached to it. The bottom would have been attached to a complementary bowl- like molded piece. The sharpness of the incised calligraphy and simple mottled dots make this an elegant and lively example.

- (RP.107)


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