Historical period(s)
Saljuq period, late 12th century
Medium
Stone-paste painted with enamel (mina'i)
Dimensions
H x W: 18.3 x 1.7 cm (7 3/16 x 11/16 in)
Geography
Iran, Kashan
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F1911.319
On View Location
Freer Gallery 04: Engaging the Senses: Art in the Islamic World
Classification(s)
Architectural Element, Ceramic
Type

Tile

Keywords
dragon, Iran, Rustam, Saljuq period (1037 - 1300)
Provenance

To 1911
Dikran G. Kelekian (1868-1951), Cairo, Egypt, Paris, France, and New York to 1911 [1]

From 1911 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Dikran G. Kelekian, New York in 1911 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]

Notes:

[1] See Original Pottery List, L. 2088, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.

[2] See note 1.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s)

Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919
Dikran Garabed Kelekian (C.L. Freer source) 1868-1951

Label

This twelve-pointed-star tile, decorated with a rider attacking a dragon, is unusual both for its shape and technique. Most tiles from medieval Iran are rectangular, hexagonal, or octagonal in shape and painted either under glaze or over glaze with luster. The use of enamel (minai) technique with raised and gilded motifs, as on this tile, was reserved primarily for ceramic vessels.

The proud rider with a dragon coiled at his feet most likely represents a literary hero. He could be Rustam or King Bahram, two renowned dragon slayers from the Shahnama. The figure is further distinguished by appearing on a twelve-pointed tile. Viewers in the twelfth century may have identified him by the tile’s setting or through their own familiarity with similar examples. For us, the equestrian remains an anonymous hero.

Published References
  • Oriental Ceramics: The World's Great Collections. 12 vols., Tokyo. vol. 10, pl. 291.
  • Terres d'Islam: Les Collections de Ceramique Moyen-Orientale du Musee Aiana a Geneve. Switzerland. p. 19.
  • Richard Ettinghausen. Medieval Near Eastern Ceramics in the Freer Gallery of Art. Washington and Baltimore. p. 34.
  • Dr. Esin Atil. Ceramics from the World of Islam. Exh. cat. Washington, 1973. cat. 49, pp. 110-111.
  • Denys Sutton. The Lure of the Golden Bowl. vol. 118, no. 258 London. p. 122.
  • Marianna Shreve Simpson. The Illustration of an Epic: The Earliest Shahnama Manuscripts. Outstanding Dissertations in the Fine Arts New York and London. p. 268.
  • The Arts of Persia. New Haven and London. p. 279, fig. 11.
Collection Area(s)
Arts of the Islamic World
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
SI Usage Statement

Usage Conditions Apply

There are restrictions for re-using this image. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

The information presented on this website may be revised and updated at any time as ongoing research progresses or as otherwise warranted. Pending any such revisions and updates, information on this site may be incomplete or inaccurate or may contain typographical errors. Neither the Smithsonian nor its regents, officers, employees, or agents make any representations about the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or timeliness of the information on the site. Use this site and the information provided on it subject to your own judgment. The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery welcome information that would augment or clarify the ownership history of objects in their collections.