17th century CE
Materials and technique
Siliceous paste, painted decoration under glaze
Ø 42 cm
This plate owes its shape, range of colour and general organisation to Chinese ceramics. The wide border with its decoration compartmentalised into sixteen panels and its scalloped outline are characteristic of a group of blue-and-white ceramics produced in China for export during the “Transition period” (1620-83 CE). The stylised floral motifs characteristic of the Chinese plates are still recognisable on the border, although they have been reinterpreted. These consist of the two stems with round flowers on one of the border’s large panels and the eight stylised palmettes occupying the narrowest panels (Makariou 2007, p. 55, note 84). The other plant elements - flowered vases, shrubs and sprays of flowers - do not seem to relate to the Chinese tradition any more than does the iconography in the central scene, which belongs to the Islamic world. This scene shows a superposition of architectural elements seen in cross section: small kiosks, onion domes, rows and columns of arches. It also contains two religious symbols: the stylised representation of the Prophet’s two sandals (na'layn) and the representation of Dhu al-faqar, the legendary two-pointed sword that belonged to Prophet Muhammad and was later given to the first Shia Imam, Hazrat 'Ali, after the Battle of Uhud. A minbar is also recognisable above the representation of Dhu al-faqar and perhaps a second on the border, adjoined by other kiosks. Two standards and a number of suspended lamps also confirm the sacred nature of the place.
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