12th-13th century CE
Materials and technique
Ceramic; fritware, lustre painted on an opaque white glaze
Height 21.5 cm
Beginning in the twelfth century, ceramics in Iran were produced with a frit body that provided a clean, light surface for painting. In addition to the many transparent and opaque coloured glazes, lustre could also be added to the ceramic decoration, painted over the glaze after it was fired, and then fired a second time, developing an impressive metallic sheen in the process. Most of the stunning works in this group belong to a larger group of pre-Mongol lustre wares with decoration that can be classified as illustrative or pictorial (see Lentz and Lowry 1989, ch. 2) and exhibit the “miniature” and “monumental” styles of Persian lustreware coined by Oliver Watson (Watson 2004). These types of wares may be compared to the highly figural mina’i or haft-rangi (seven-colour) wares, also attributed to pre-Mongol Iran, a period that witnessed an intensive proliferation of figural art (often depicting royal pastimes), especially in the production of ceramics. While not as figural in its design, this bottle nevertheless shares characteristics of the “miniature” and later “Kashan” styles in Persian lustreware. The bottle is decorated with bands of panels filled with foliate forms and lozenges alternating with bands of pseudo-calligraphic and calligraphic inscriptions, and the background or negative space on the surface is filled in a comprehensive manner.
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