Dish With Seven Hollows
12th-13th century CE
Materials and technique
Ceramic; fritware, lustre painted on an opaque white glaze
Ø 31.1 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 their design, this seven-part dish nevertheless share characteristics of the “miniature” and later “Kashan” styles in Persian lustreware. The seven hollows in the dish suggest that this piece may have been used to hold seven fruits or the seven items of the traditional sofra-yi haftsin (lit., “seven-S spread”) at Navruz, the Persian New Year that begins with the spring equinox.
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