Ottoman, 17th century CE
Materials and technique
Stonepaste body with polychrome underglaze painting
52 x 32 cm
This tile depicts the black-shrouded Ka'ba within the Great Mosque of Mecca (Masjid al-Haram), the site of the annual Muslim pilgrimage (hajj). The artist uses multipoint perspective - both plan and elevation - to give a sense of the overall form of the site. As in pilgrimage guides, which were produced throughout the Islamic world, essential locations are labelled here for further clarity. Decorated with the characteristic Ottoman ceramic palette of turquoise, cobalt blue, green and red on a white ground, tiles like this one were produced in the seventeenth century. They were often placed in an architectural setting such as a mosque’s south-facing wall to indicate the geographical direction of Mecca and one’s prayers. This plaque reflects the Ottoman interest in topography and the long-standing Islamic tradition of depicting the holy shrine of Mecca in various artistic media.
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