Name of Object:

Dish decorated with inscription


Fez, Morocco

Holding Museum:

Batha Museum

Date of Object:

Hegira 13th / first half AD 19th century

Museum Inventory Number:


Material(s) / Technique(s):

Glazed earthenware, painted with cobalt oxide for the blue and limonite for the yellow.


Height 10 cm, base diameter 22 cm, diameter 40 cm

Period / Dynasty:





This shallow tabsil dish is one of the few dishes from Fez decorated with a free composition that is neither radial nor with motifs arranged around the centre. The decoration is arranged in a fan around a vertical axis, unlike most earthenware dishes. The principal theme is epigraphic and architectural. The central motif, painted in blue and surrounded by a brown line, shows a mirror image of the pious formula ‘al-Mulk’, or 'power' (of God) in very stylised twisted kufic characters. It is framed by a poly-lobed arcature painted in blue and highlighted on the inside with a bright yellow line reminiscent of the mihrab. This decorative motif with religious undertones was introduced in earthenware in the AH 13th / AD late 18th century and was still in use in the early 19th century. This theme was inspired by similar designs engraved on wooden lintels from the Marinid and Sa'did eras. The arcature extends on both sides with consoles that end in fleurons, and the background is covered with floral motifs and Ottoman-style flowers.
This type of shallow plate would normally have been used to serve bastila (Moroccan pie), but this example seems to have been more decorative and symbolic than practical.

View Short Description

This type of dish was used to serve pies. The free composition of non-radiating decoration is symbolic, epigraphic and architectural. Its stylised decoration includes a mirror-image of the word ‘al-Mulk’, understood to mean 'divine power', beneath a representation of a mihrab arch.

How date and origin were established:

From stylistic and comparative study. Also, the greyish, faded blue is characteristic of plates that predate the second half of the 13th / 19th century, which was a result of the quality of the cobalt oxide which remained full of impurities until 1266 / 1850. Indeed it is not until after this date, with the introduction of new industrial processes, that this type of ore could be completely cleared of its impurities and a strong blue obtained in ceramics.

How Object was obtained:


How provenance was established:

This type of earthenware was a speciality of Fez ceramicists from the 12th / 18th century.

Selected bibliography:

Bel, A., Les industries de la céramique à Fès, Algiers; Paris, 1918.
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 "Dish decorated with inscription" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2018.;ISL;ma;Mus01_C;35;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 46


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Islamic Dynasties / Period


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Calligraphy Ceramics


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