Plate

Black stretched-out Kufic inscription on flat rim flange; white engobe ground. Said to have been found in Nishapur. Broken and repaired; small areas of rim restored.

(Atil,1973) This small plate, similar in shape to Numbers 7 and 8, has an Arabic inscription written in a dark-brown slip on its wide rim. The center is decorated with a floral motif composed of four dark-brown curving stems revolving around a disc. Each stem terminates in a trilobed palmette which curves in, counteracted by a split-leaf which is reversed. Four irregular lozenge-shaped red units fill in the area between the palmettes and the leaves. Double red dots adorn the outer volutes of the central composition.
The kufic inscription reads: [arbc] Excellence is a quality of the people of paradise.
This piece, said to have been found in Nishapur, is of the type commonly called Samarkand or Afrasiab ware.
The exact provenance of red and black slip-painted wares, decorated with Arabic inscriptions surrounding a revolving central motif, is far from solved. Both the Nishapur and Samarkand excavations have unearthed pieces which employ similar compositions. As also seen with the epigraphic wares, this style was produced throughout the urban centers of northeastern Iran, reflecting the tast of that society. The patrons were not only attracted to the aphorisms on the pieces but possibly also found symbolic or mystical meanings in the decorations.

… Read More

Historical period(s)
Samanid period, 10th century
Medium
Earthenware painted under glaze
Dimensions
H x W: 3.6 x 21 cm (1 7/16 x 8 1/4 in)
Geography
Iran or Afghanistan
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F1965.27
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Ceramic, Vessel
Type

Dish

Keywords
Afghanistan, earthenware, flower, Iran, kufic script, Samanid period (819 - 1005)
Provenance
Provenance research underway.
Description

Black stretched-out Kufic inscription on flat rim flange; white engobe ground. Said to have been found in Nishapur. Broken and repaired; small areas of rim restored.

(Atil,1973) This small plate, similar in shape to Numbers 7 and 8, has an Arabic inscription written in a dark-brown slip on its wide rim. The center is decorated with a floral motif composed of four dark-brown curving stems revolving around a disc. Each stem terminates in a trilobed palmette which curves in, counteracted by a split-leaf which is reversed. Four irregular lozenge-shaped red units fill in the area between the palmettes and the leaves. Double red dots adorn the outer volutes of the central composition.
The kufic inscription reads: [arbc] Excellence is a quality of the people of paradise.
This piece, said to have been found in Nishapur, is of the type commonly called Samarkand or Afrasiab ware.
The exact provenance of red and black slip-painted wares, decorated with Arabic inscriptions surrounding a revolving central motif, is far from solved. Both the Nishapur and Samarkand excavations have unearthed pieces which employ similar compositions. As also seen with the epigraphic wares, this style was produced throughout the urban centers of northeastern Iran, reflecting the tast of that society. The patrons were not only attracted to the aphorisms on the pieces but possibly also found symbolic or mystical meanings in the decorations.

Label

Among the most distinct and impressive examples of Persian ceramics are a group produced during the reign of the Samanids (819-1005) in Khurasan in northeastern Iran, present-day Afghanistan, and Uzbekistan. These vessels are embellished with inscriptions, usually in the form of a moralizing proverb. The inscription on this small plate reads, "Excellence if the quality of the people of paradise."

Published References
  • Oriental Ceramics: The World's Great Collections. 12 vols., Tokyo. vol. 10, pl. 85.
  • Robert J. Charleston. Islamic Pottery. Masterpieces of Western and Near Eastern Ceramics, vol. 4 Tokyo and New York. pl. 18.
  • Dr. Esin Atil. Ceramics from the World of Islam. Exh. cat. Washington, 1973. cat. 11, pp. 34-35.
  • Jonathan M. Bloom, Sheila Blair. And Diverse are their Hues. p. 277, fig. 186.
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.