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


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

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]


[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) and Custodian(s)

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


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
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