Bowl

A concave earthenware bowl with round rim, decorated on the interior with four stylized split palmettes painted in cobalt-blue, the ends with three oval-shaped motifs painted in bluish-green, the center with boxed lines of Kufic calligraphy painted in cobalt-blue with a tin glaze. The rim with an alternating band of spaced half moon-shaped motifs painted in cobalt-blue and bluish green, the whole painted against a creamy white ground.

Historical period(s)
Abbasid period, 9th century
Medium
Bowl; earthenware painted over glaze
Dimensions
H x W x D: 5.7 x 20.8 x 20.8 cm (2 1/4 x 8 3/16 x 8 3/16 in)
Geography
Iraq
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F2000.2
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Ceramic, Vessel
Type

Bowl

Keywords
Abbasid period (750 - 1258), earthenware, Iraq, Islam, kufic script, WWII-era provenance
Provenance

1950s
Cohen collection, Paris, 1950s [1]

From 1995 to 2000
Momtaz Islamic Art, London, from 1995 [2]

From 2000
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from Momtaz Islamic Art in 2000

Notes:

[1] According to Curatorial Note 4, Massumeh Farhad, February 28, 2000, in the object record.

[2] See note 1.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Momtaz Islamic Art

Description

A concave earthenware bowl with round rim, decorated on the interior with four stylized split palmettes painted in cobalt-blue, the ends with three oval-shaped motifs painted in bluish-green, the center with boxed lines of Kufic calligraphy painted in cobalt-blue with a tin glaze. The rim with an alternating band of spaced half moon-shaped motifs painted in cobalt-blue and bluish green, the whole painted against a creamy white ground.

Inscription(s)

1. (Massumeh Farhad, 28 February 2000) The inscription, written in cobalt in a compact kufic script, consists of three lines stacked in the center and can be read as "sa 'da/sahibihu/..." ("blessings to its owner,..."). Four windswept palmettes surround the inscription, while eight alternating cobalt and copper lobes adorn the rim.

See more discussion regarding the inscription in Curatorial Remarks, comment #1.

Label

Among the earliest surviving works of art decorated with writing are a group of ceramic vessels, produced in Iraq and Iran under the rule of the powerful Abbasid dynasty (749–1258). Inspired by the whiteness and purity of the much admired, imported Chinese porcelain, Muslim potters created their own "white ware" by covering their buff-colored earthenware vessels with a glaze containing a small amount of lead and tin, which turns opaque when fired. Unlike the Chinese models, most of the Abbasid vessels were embellished with a variety of motifs, including calligraphic designs. This bowl combines both vegetal motifs and calligraphic design in cobalt and copper glazes. Surrounded by windswept palmettes, the inscription in the center confers blessings to the owner.

Published References
  • Islamic Art at the Ashmolean. Oxford Studies in Islamic Art. pp. 125-26.
Collection Area(s)
Arts of the Islamic World
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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