Name of Object:

Fragment of a pottery bowl


Damascus, Syria

Holding Museum:

National Museum of Damascus

About National Museum of Damascus, Damascus

Date of Object:

Hegira 136–58 / AD 754–75

Artist(s) / Craftsperson(s):

Ibrahim al-Nasrani.

Museum Inventory Number:

ع 17261

Material(s) / Technique(s):

Earthenware; moulded and stamped.


Height 7.5 cm, diameter 12.2 cm

Period / Dynasty:



Produced in Hira in southern Mesopotamia (Iraq).


The Raqqa region contains a group of Abbasid palaces that have been labelled with the letters A, B, C and D. This ceramic fragment was found during archaeological excavations carried out in Palace A. The fragment is part of a delicate bowl that was made in a mould and decorated around its girth with Arabic kufic script that reads: “from the work of Ibrahim al-Nasrani that has been made in Hira for the Amir Sulayman, son of the Commander of the Faithful." The Commander of the Faithful, or Caliph, in question is the Abbasid Abu Ja'far al-Mansur (r. AH 136–58 / AD 754–75). The text indicates that this piece was made in Hira by Ibrahim al-Nasrani and transported to Raqqa. The name of the craftsperson (al-Nasrani, i.e. the Christian) indicates that he was probably a master craftsman in the Christian ceramic-producing quarter of al-Hira.
The base of the bowl was stamped with geometric and stylised vegetal motifs including palm trees.

View Short Description

Although this bowl is delicate and fragmented, its moulded band of early kufic inscription has mostly survived. It includes the name of the craftsman, Ibrahim al-Nasrani, evidently a Christian, the place of production in Hira and the dedication to Sulayman, '[son] of the commander of the faithful'.

Original Owner:

Prince Sulayman (son of the Abbasid Caliph Abu Ja'far al-Mansur (r. AH 136–58 / AD 754–75)

How date and origin were established:

The inscription on the fragment associates it with the rule of the Abbasid Caliph Abu Ja'far al-Mansur (136–58 / 754–75).

How Object was obtained:

The fragment was found during an archaeological excavation carried out in 1948 in Palace A by the Syrian General Directorate of Antiquities under the direction of archaeologist Nasib Salibi.

How provenance was established:

The text inscribed on the vessel fragment specifies Hira, in Mesopotamia (Iraq) as the place of production.

Selected bibliography:

Abu al-Faraj al-Ush, M., A Concise Guide to the National Museum of Damascus,
Damascus, 1969, p.160.
Kohlmeyer, K. (ed), Land des Baal, Mainz, 1982.
Soustiel, J., and Kiefer C., La céramique islamique, Fribourg, 1985.
Weiss, H. (ed), Ebla to Damascus, Washington DC, 1985, p.518.

Citation of this web page:

Mona al-Moadin "Fragment of a pottery bowl" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2018.;ISL;sy;Mus01;11;en

Prepared by: Mona Al-Moadin
Translation by: Hilary Kalmbach (from the Arabic)
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez

MWNF Working Number: SY 17


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