13th century CE
Materials and technique
Stonepaste body, decoration painted in black under a turquoise glaze
Ø 21.9 cm
This bowl has a pronounced aquatic theme: undulating leaves and stems fill the sides and fish swim over its base, all under a “sea” of transparent turquoise alkaline glaze. Water is an important symbol in Islam and gardens with axial pools filled with fish were seen as metaphors for the heavenly garden. The so-called “water-weed” design on this bowl was a popular theme in Persian underglaze ceramics from the early thirteenth century. The design was applied with a brush, which allowed for more fluidity and spontaneity than previously possible in the earlier, slip-carved “silhouette wares”. The painter of this bowl seems to revel in the new-found freedom of brushwork in the underglaze technique, adding decorative flourishes to the leaves.
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