Deep bowl

Deep bowl with luster design of peacock holding fish in its beak, on ground with dots and circles. Festooned edge. Lower part of walls and foot unglazed. Two pieces missing and restored.

(Atil,1973) The early lusterwares of the Abbasid period were often imitated in Iran as seen in this bowl which represents a peacock holding a large fish in its beak. The decoration uses the conventions of the Samarra style with a scalloped band on the rim, wide contour panels around the motifs and dots and circles filling in the background. The theme of a bird holding a fish in its beak had been observed on a prehistorical bowl found in Samarra and reapperas in the tenth century on post-Samarra lusters with several examples depicted on bowls and jugs. Other related themes from Iraq show animals or birds with leaves in their mouths (see No.4).

This Iranian example differs from the Iraqi wares both technically and stylistically. The technique used here is not true luster: the motifs are underglaze painted in an olive-green pigment or slip on the white engobe which covers the inner surface of the bowl, thus simulating the greenish-yellow Samarra lusters. The design reveals a derivative quality in which the silhouette effect is dissolved (this feature is particularly noticeable in the body and tail of the peacock); the circles of the background omit the central dot of the “peacock’s-eye” motif.

The exterior shows a series of diagonal lines on the rim, deviating from the traditional concentric circles found on the Abbasid wares. The lower part of the exterior walls and fthe foot are unglazed.

The provenance of this piece is not known but several examples of underglaze-painted wares which follow the stylistic features of the Samarra style were found both in Nishapur and in Samarkand (C.K. Wilkinson, “The Glazed Pottery of Nishapur and Samarkand,” Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, vol. XX, no.3 [Nov., 1961], pp. 102-115). Some of the pieces from northeastern Iran imitate luster by using a green slip which tends to stain the transparent glaze yellow (C.K. Wilkinson, Iranian Ceramics, New York, 1963, pl.27). One similar bowl from Iran, which also represents a peacock holding a fish in its beak, is a slip-painted in black under a greenish glaze (Victoria and Albert Museum, Islamic Pottery: 800-1400 A.D., London, 1969, no.40).

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Historical period(s)
10th-11th century
Medium
Earthenware painted with slip under transparent glaze
Dimensions
H x Diam: 7.6 x 18.5 cm (3 x 7 5/16 in)
Geography
Iran
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F1966.27
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Ceramic, Vessel
Type

Bowl

Keywords
bird, earthenware, fish, Iran, Islam, peacock, Samanid period (819 - 1005), slip
Provenance
Provenance research underway.
Description

Deep bowl with luster design of peacock holding fish in its beak, on ground with dots and circles. Festooned edge. Lower part of walls and foot unglazed. Two pieces missing and restored.

(Atil,1973) The early lusterwares of the Abbasid period were often imitated in Iran as seen in this bowl which represents a peacock holding a large fish in its beak. The decoration uses the conventions of the Samarra style with a scalloped band on the rim, wide contour panels around the motifs and dots and circles filling in the background. The theme of a bird holding a fish in its beak had been observed on a prehistorical bowl found in Samarra and reapperas in the tenth century on post-Samarra lusters with several examples depicted on bowls and jugs. Other related themes from Iraq show animals or birds with leaves in their mouths (see No.4).

This Iranian example differs from the Iraqi wares both technically and stylistically. The technique used here is not true luster: the motifs are underglaze painted in an olive-green pigment or slip on the white engobe which covers the inner surface of the bowl, thus simulating the greenish-yellow Samarra lusters. The design reveals a derivative quality in which the silhouette effect is dissolved (this feature is particularly noticeable in the body and tail of the peacock); the circles of the background omit the central dot of the "peacock's-eye" motif.

The exterior shows a series of diagonal lines on the rim, deviating from the traditional concentric circles found on the Abbasid wares. The lower part of the exterior walls and fthe foot are unglazed.

The provenance of this piece is not known but several examples of underglaze-painted wares which follow the stylistic features of the Samarra style were found both in Nishapur and in Samarkand (C.K. Wilkinson, "The Glazed Pottery of Nishapur and Samarkand," Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, vol. XX, no.3 [Nov., 1961], pp. 102-115). Some of the pieces from northeastern Iran imitate luster by using a green slip which tends to stain the transparent glaze yellow (C.K. Wilkinson, Iranian Ceramics, New York, 1963, pl.27). One similar bowl from Iran, which also represents a peacock holding a fish in its beak, is a slip-painted in black under a greenish glaze (Victoria and Albert Museum, Islamic Pottery: 800-1400 A.D., London, 1969, no.40).

Published References
  • Oriental Ceramics: The World's Great Collections. 12 vols., Tokyo. vol. 10, pl. 84.
  • Dr. Esin Atil. Ceramics from the World of Islam. Exh. cat. Washington, 1973. cat. 5, pp. 22-23.
Collection Area(s)
Arts of the Islamic World
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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