Name of Object:

Glazed bowl


Mértola, Beja, Portugal

Holding Museum:

Mértola Museum

About Mértola Museum, Mértola.

Date of Object:

Hegira second half of 6th century / AD second half of 12th century

Museum Inventory Number:


Material(s) / Technique(s):

Ceramic made from a coarse-grained straw and paste mix, modelled on a potter’s wheel, and fired in an oxidising atmosphere, glazed and decorated using the cuerda seca technique throughout.


Height 8.5 cm, diameter (of mouth) 29.2 cm, diameter (of base) 11 cm

Period / Dynasty:



Almería or Málaga (Spain).


A bowl with a circular mouth, a curved vertical rim with a triangular lip, a hemispherical body and slightly convex base with diagonal foot-ring. The exterior is glazed in honey-coloured monochrome and the interior presents an unusual decorative style which combines a frieze of small stamped rosettes with the decoration in cuerda seca in which the white, green, purple and honey colours of the glaze are separated by lines of manganese. The central theme is the tree of life formed by three lotus flowers in cross-section joined by a stalk, surrounded by a frieze of stamped rosettes. The composition is completed by a design on the rim in four parts, consisting of two pairs of alternating plant motifs. The 'tree of life' or 'tree of paradise' theme already appeared in metallic lustre-ware in the earthenware of AH 3rd -century / AD 9th-century Iraq (Grube, 1976). The object has been restored.

View Short Description

Bowl decorated in cuerda seca. The central motif is a tree of life consisting of three lotus flowers seen from the side and joined by a stem, all surrounded by a rosette border. The decoration is completed by a four-part composition on the brim, formed by two pairs of alternating plant motifs.

How date and origin were established:

The stratigraphic context in which the object was found was very disordered, which led to its being dated to the 6th / 12th century by comparison with objects of identical shape and decorative technique found, for example, in Ceuta and Alcazarseguir (Morocco) and in Cartagena, Málaga and Almería (Spain).

How Object was obtained:

Found in the archaeological excavations carried out by the Campo Arqueológico de Mértola in the citadel of the Castle of Mértola.

How provenance was established:

The abundance of this type of ceramic in Málaga and Almería (Spain), where kilns have been found in which they were made, has led researchers to attribute its production to these towns.

Selected bibliography:

Gómez Martínez, S., “Catálogo da Cerâmica”, in Museu de Mértola. Arte Islâmica, ed. S. Macias, Mértola, 2001, p.127.
Grube, E., Islamic Pottery of the Eighth to the Fifteenth Century in the Keir Collection, London, 1976, no. 15.
Torres, C., “Um Lote Cerâmico da Mértola Islâmica, in I Congreso de Arqueología Medieval Española. Huesca, 1985, Vol. IV, Saragossa, 1986, pp.193–228.
Torres, C. and Gómez, S., “Le Vert et Brun au Portugal”, in Le Vert et le Brun de Kairouan à Avignon: Céramiques du Xe au XVe Siècle,exhibition catalogue, Marseilles, 1995, pp.98–102.
Torres, C. and Macias, S. (eds.), O Portugal Islâmico, Lisbon, 1998, p.94.

Citation of this web page:

Susana Gómez Martínez "Glazed bowl" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2018.;ISL;pt;Mus01;4;en

Prepared by: Susana Gómez MartínezSusana Gómez Martínez

Susana Gómez Martínez é historiadora e arqueóloga especializada no período medieval. Estudou Geografia e História na Universidade Complutense de Madrid onde se doutorou em Historia com uma tese intitulada “Cerámica islámica de Mértola. Producción y comercio” (no prelo). É investigadora do Campo Arqueológico de Mértola desde 1993. Autora de várias publicações, de entre as quais se destacam “Cerâmica em Corda Seca de Mértola” (Mértola, Campo Arqueológico de Mértola, 2002); Cerámica Islámica de Medinaceli, in "Boletín de Arqueología Medieval", n.º 9, pp. 123-182, Madrid, Asociación Española de Arqueología Medieval, 1996). É membro do comité científico do Itinerário/exposição “Terras da Moura Encantada” (Lisboa, PICT e Museu sem Fronteiras, 1999) e do Comité Científico da Association International pour l'étude de la Céramique Médiévale en Méditerranée (AIECM2).

Translation by: Gilla Evans
Translation copyedited by: Monica Allen

MWNF Working Number: PT 07


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