Name of Object:

Star dish


Fez, Morocco

Holding Museum:

Batha Museum

Date of Object:

Hegira 1274 / AD 1857–8

Museum Inventory Number:


Material(s) / Technique(s):

Tin-glazed earthenware painted with nickel and cobalt oxide.


Height 11cm, diameter 41.1cm, base diameter 21.6cm

Period / Dynasty:





This deep dish, painted with blue on a stanniferous (tin-bearing) white base, has no inner brim and belongs to the group of utensils known as tabsil, which were used to serve dishes in sauce. Its classical geometric composition is based around a centrepiece consisting of a blue circle surrounded by festoons and small dots that link to a six-pointed star. Three lines of intertwined circles radiate from this star, which is highlighted with a blue braid and a white ribbon, before opening out into a six-petal corolla. The spaces in the intertwining pattern, alternating between strong and faded blues, contains small snake motifs left in reserve and half-flower motifs inspired by the efflorescence of blue-and-white Chinese dishes, which were known at this time in Morocco as a result of trade with the Far East.
The decoration is completed on the curved brim of the dish with small bouquets of flowers and foliage coloured deep blue. The six medallions placed on the points of the central star are inscribed in reserve with two Arabic letters and four numbers indicating the year when the object was made (AH 1274 / AD 1857–8). This very elaborate composition, based on different shades of blue on the brilliant white background, makes this dish particularly interesting. It is one of five known pieces of this type of ceramic to be dated.

View Short Description

This bowl, from a group of utensils known as tabsil used to serve dishes with sauce, is one of five pieces to be dated. Its highly elaborate, classical composition radiates from the centre. The small, blue seedlings are reminiscent of certain motifs on blue Chinese dishes.

How date and origin were established:

The two Arabic letters, s and ain, the first letters of the words souni'a' and 'am meaning 'made in the year', and the numbers 1, 2, 7 and 4 painted inside the six medallions indicate the Hegira date 1274 (AD 1857–8).

How Object was obtained:


How provenance was established:

The town of Fez was known for its production of this type of ceramic.

Selected bibliography:

Bel, A., Les industries de la céramique à Fès, Algiers; Paris, 1918.
Bel, A., “Potiers et faïenciers de Fès: les produits de leur fabrication; leurs croyances et leurs légendes”, France-Maroc, no. 3, 1919, pp.78–82.
Khatib-Boujibar, N., “La céramique émaillée”, in Maroc, les trésors du Royaume, catalogue, Paris, 1999.
Loviconi A. and Belfitah D., Regards sur la faïence de Fès, Aix-en-Provence, 1991.
Andalusian Morocco: A Discovery in Living Art, pp.128–9.

Citation of this web page:

Naima El Khatib-Boujibar "Star dish" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2018.;ISL;ma;Mus01_C;34;en

Prepared by: Naima El Khatib-BoujibarNaima El Khatib-Boujibar

Archéologue et historienne de l'art, titulaire d'une licence en lettres (française), N. Elkhatib-Boujibar a également étudié l'archéologie et l'histoire de l'art à l'Institut d'art et d'archéologie de Paris, l'art islamique et la muséologie à l'École du Louvre (Paris), et suivi des cours à l'Institut d'ethnographie de l'Université de Neuchâtel (Suisse). Elle a occupé plusieurs postes de responsabilité, parmi lesquels directrice des Musées et de l'Archéologie, inspectrice générale des Musées et de l'Archéologie, déléguée régionale du ministère de la Culture.
Elle a dirigé un chantier de fouille durant 20 ans et enseigné à l'Institut national marocain des sciences de l'archéologie et du patrimoine (INSAP). Elle a organisé différentes expositions sur le patrimoine marocain, au Maroc comme à l'étranger, et animé des cycles de conférence, dont celui sur l'art islamique à la “Villa des Arts” à Casablanca.
N. El Khatib-Boujibar a publié différents articles sur le patrimoine archéologique, artistique et architectural marocain, mais aussi sur d'autres sites islamiques et sur les arts mobiliers. Elle a également participé à la rédaction du catalogue Musée Sans Frontières Le Maroc andalou, à la rencontre d'un art de vivre.

Copyedited by: Margot Cortez
Translation by: Laurence Nunny
Translation copyedited by: Monica Allen

MWNF Working Number: MO 45


 Artistic Introduction

 Timeline for this item

Islamic Dynasties / Period


On display in

Discover Islamic Art Exhibition(s)

The Muslim West | Court Life

MWNF Galleries



As PDF (including images) As Word (text only)