Bowl: bold foot rim. Clay: soft, compact, buff-white. Glaze: glossy greenish cream; crazed. Decoration: painted in coppery lustre with ruby reflections over glaze.

Historical period(s)
Fatimid period, 12th century
Earthenware painted over glaze with luster
H x Diam: 8.9 x 21 cm (3 1/2 x 8 1/4 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Ceramic, Vessel


earthenware, Egypt, Fatimid period (909 - 1171)

From at least 1935-1936
Kouchakji Frères, New York, method of acquisition unknown [1]

From 1936
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from Kouchakji Frères, New York [2]


[1] See November 19, 1935 letter from Fahim Kouchakji to J.E. Lodge, wherein Kouchakji acknowledges the return of several objects, but writes “I notice you still have one of the Syro-Egyptian Bowls, the one you liked.” Founded in 1890 and specializing in Syrian, Alexandrian, Roman and Arabic antiquities, this family firm of art dealers had galleries in Aleppo, Paris and New York. By 1929, Fahim Kouchakji (1886-1976) purchased all shares in the business and became sole proprietor.

[2] See February 14, 1936 invoice for purchase, with note in pencil that the object was approved on February 3, 1936, in object file.

Research updated December 1, 2022

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Fahim Kouchakji


Bowl: bold foot rim. Clay: soft, compact, buff-white. Glaze: glossy greenish cream; crazed. Decoration: painted in coppery lustre with ruby reflections over glaze.


Figural representations also played a prominent role in luster-painted ceramics from twelfth century Egypt.  Although the vessels were made from coarser clay than the earlier Iraqi examples, the decoration, like much of the art of the Fatimid period (909-1171), tended to be more animated and naturalistic.  The plate is also embellished with an inscription bestowing good wishes on its anonymous owner.

The small bowl is entirely decorated with individual words, such as "pleasure," "happiness," and "wealth."  Using an ornate kufic, or angular script, the potter has drawn on the decorative qualities of the written words to create a rather unusual design.

Published References
  • Oriental Ceramics: The World's Great Collections. 12 vols., Tokyo. vol. 10, pl. 300.
  • Dr. Esin Atil. Art of the Arab World. Exh. cat. Washington, 1975. cat. 15, pp. 42-43.
  • Content and Context of Visual Arts in the Islamic World. Monographs in the Fine Arts, no. 44 University Park, Pennsylvania and London. pp. 68, 72, 76, figs. 1a, 1b.
  • Dr. Esin Atil. Ceramics from the World of Islam. Exh. cat. Washington, 1973. cat. 60, pp. 134-135.
Collection Area(s)
Arts of the Islamic World
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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