Name of Object:

Star-shaped tiles


Rome, Italy

Holding Museum:

Museum of Civilisations | Museum of Oriental Art “Giuseppe Tucci”

About Museum of Civilisations | Museum of Oriental Art “Giuseppe Tucci”, Rome

Date of Object:

Hegira 7th–8th / AD 13th–14th centuries

Museum Inventory Number:

90/ 91/ 93/ 94 (مخزن لمعهد IAO)

Material(s) / Technique(s):

Ceramic painted with metallic lustre and blue.


Width 21cm

Period / Dynasty:





These star-shaped tiles belong to a type probably developed around the end of the AH 7th–8th / AD 13th–14th centuries commonly known as kashi from the most famous production centre: Kashan in central northern Iran. These tiles, used as an architectural finish, almost ‘dematerialise’ buildings with their vibrant luminosity and polychromy.
The decoration is based on central animals (felines, hares, elephants, etc.) above a background entirely covered with leafy bushes. Various epigraphic motifs run along the edge, and the hare tile bears a Qur’anic inscription that reproduces Sura 110 almost in full: ‘In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful / When triumph comes from God, and victory / You will see the people embracing God’s religion in throngs / You shall glorify and praise your Lord, and implore Him for forgiveness. He is the Redeemer’ while another, decorated with an elephant and a phoenix in flight and bearing the date AH 691 (AD 1291–2), includes a quotation from Firdausi’s Shahnama about the return of Isfandiyar of Gushtasp. The inscription reads: ‘Now we must drink joyfully / As from the river comes a smell of musk / The air is full of loud cries and the land is angry / Happy is he who is content to drink’.

View Short Description

These star-shaped tiles, known as kashi after their most important centre of production (Kashan), were combined with cross-shaped pieces and used as a luxurious wall covering in palaces.

How date and origin were established:

Date inscribed on one of the pieces.

How Object was obtained:


How provenance was established:

Tiles of this type were commonly produced in Kashan in Iran.

Selected bibliography:

Curatola, G., Eredità dell’Islam: Arte Islamica in Italia, Cinisello Balsamo, 1993.
Fèhervari, G., La Ceramica Islamica, Milan, 1985.
Folsach, K. von, Islamic Art: The David Collection, Copenhagen, 1990.
Grube, E.J., Cobalt and Lustre. The First Centuries of Islamic Pottery – The Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, Vol. IX, London, 1994.
Lane, A., Early Islamic Pottery, London, 1953.

Citation of this web page:

Paola Torre "Star-shaped tiles" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2018.;ISL;it;Mus01;30;en

Prepared by: Paola TorrePaola Torre

Responsabile del Dipartimento di Archeologia e Arte Islamica e del Servizio Educativo presso il Museo Nazionale d'Arte Orientale “Giuseppe Tucci” di Roma.
Laureata in Arte islamica, ha svolto per anni attività di docenza presso l'Istituto Universitario Orientale di Napoli ed è autrice di numerose pubblicazioni e studi scientifici riguardanti soprattutto la ceramica del mondo islamico, con particolare riferimento alla produzione dipinta a lustro metallico, dalla Mesopotamia alla Spagna.

Copyedited by: Pier Paolo RacioppiPier Paolo Racioppi

Laureato e specializzato in storia dell'arte presso l'Università di Roma “La Sapienza” sta conseguendo il dottorato di ricerca in Storia e conservazione dell'oggetto d'arte e d'architettura presso l'Università di Roma TRE. Ha svolto attività seminariali presso l'Istituto di Storia dell'Arte all'Università La Sapienza di Roma e attualmente è docente di storia dell'arte del Rinascimento presso la IES at Luiss (Roma).
Ha pubblicato diversi contributi sulla tutela artistica, il collezionismo e le accademie d'arte, ed ha collaborato al Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani dell'Enciclopedia Treccani.

Translation by: Laurence Nunny
Translation copyedited by: Monica Allen

MWNF Working Number: IT 41


 Artistic Introduction

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Islamic Dynasties / Period


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Calligraphy Ceramics


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