Name of Object:



Silves, Faro, Portugal

Holding Museum:

Silves Municipal Archaeology Museum

Date of Object:

Hegira 4th–5th century / AD 10th–11th century

Museum Inventory Number:

MMAS 00003

Material(s) / Technique(s):

Glazed ceramic with manganese decoration.


Height 19.6 cm, diameter 11.2 cm, diameter (of base) 10.5 cm

Period / Dynasty:

Umayyad of al-Andalus, Caliphate period


Arrochela (historic centre of Silves).


Globular vessel with a foot-ring at the base and with a semi-circular cross-section and slightly everted rim. The paste is orange and the surfaces are glazed in a honey colour. On the exterior surface is a plant-form decoration in columns around the whole body, bordered with dark brown to black manganese.
This type of decoration emerged in Silves in items dating from the AH 5th / AD 11th century, although they became more frequent in the AH 6th / AD 12th century.
They are thought to be everyday ceramics. The shape suggests that they were used as receptacles for holding oil or other domestic liquids such as water. Smaller versions of this pot may have been used for cosmetics or simply as decorative objects.
The characteristics of the piece are similar to those with a metallic lustre decoration from Egypt and Iran, dating from the AH 3rd and 4th / AD 9th and 10th centuries. The use of decorative motifs with borders in manganese, but enamelled, dates back to the previous period and may have originated in the East. The decoration of this piece, in spite of its stylistic similarities to oriental ceramics, is similar to other pieces found in Silves, so it may have been produced locally in the region of al-Gharb, and even in Silves itself, in imitation of oriental models.
Ceramic objects of this kind were made in the region of Gharb al-Andalus throughout the Muslim period.

View Short Description

Locally produced jar probably inspired by Iranian or Egyptian models. The outside is decorated with plant motifs that create columns around the entire body. The configuration of the piece suggests that it was used to store liquids.

How date and origin were established:

From the archaeological and stratigraphic context in which it was found. A stylistic analysis has found comparisons with similar objects from the same period.

How Object was obtained:

It has been housed in the museum since the excavations carried out in the 1990s.

How provenance was established:

An excavation carried out at Rua da Arrochela (the historic centre of Silves) directed by Rosa Varela Gomes. Excavation inventory number: AR Q5/E15/C2-1.

Selected bibliography:

Gomes, R. V., Palácio Almóada da Alcáçova de Silves, Lisbon, 2001, p.59.
Gomes, R. V., Silves (Xelb), Uma Cidade do Gharb Al-Andalus, Arqueologia e História (Séculos VIII–XIII), Lisbon, 1999.
Portugal Islâmico: Os últimos Sinais do Mediterrâneo, exhibition catalogue, Lisbon, 1998, p.158.

Citation of this web page:

Maria da Conceição Amaral "Pot" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2018.;ISL;pt;Mus01_B;15;en

Prepared by: Maria da Conceição AmaralMaria da Conceição Amaral

Licenciada em História de Arte (Univ. Coimbra) e pós-graduada em Gestão Cultural nas Cidades (INDEG/ISCTE).
Entre 1993-2002, na Comissão Nacional dos Descobrimentos Portugueses, foi responsável pelo comissariado executivo, produção e gestão de grandes exposições e catálogos, e coordenadora de itinerâncias internacionais, realizadas em Portugal e no Estrangeiro. Destacam-se “Memórias Árabo-Islâmicas em Portugal”, “Culturas do Índico”, “Marrocos – Portugal: Portas do Mediterrâneo”. É sócia-gerente da empresa TerraCulta, Lda, onde desenvolve projectos de conceptualização, gestão e produção cultural. É Directora do Museu de Arqueologia de Silves e do Centro de Interpretação do Património Islâmico. É vice-presidente da Associação Multiculti – culturas do Mediterrâneo e integra a equipa portuguesa da Fundação Euromediterrânica Ann Lindh para o diálogo das civilizações.

Translation by: Gilla Evans
Translation copyedited by: Monica Allen

MWNF Working Number: PT 20


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