National Museum of Damascus
Around hegira 6th century / AD 12th century
Earthenware, with monochrome glaze.
Height 7.5 cm, width 32.5 cm
Jazira (the region located between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, hence known as “the island” and currently consisting of northeast modern Syria and northwest Iraq), or Mesopotamia.
Many types of glazed pottery were produced during the Islamic period, one of which was a glazed ceramic painted in monochrome. This type was created by coating the fired pottery in molten coloured glass, usually dark-blue, burgundy, or green.
This dark-blue ceramic plate is decorated inside with the word “al-Mulk” (power, sovereignty, or ownership). This word was carved into the bottom of the plate before the glaze was applied, which meant that the cobalt-blue gathered in the grooves, making the low points darker and the high points lighter, intensifying the effect of the decoration. The overall surface of the vessel, however, was uniform and smooth by the end of the glazing process.
This method of decoration is similar to that used on laqabi wares produced in Syria and Iran, although pieces of this type are usually polychrome.
“al-Mulk” is written in foliated kufic script, in which each letter ends with a sprout or bud decoration. The writing is surrounded by an interior band in the form of a group of small rectangles and an outer band decorated with ornamental elements, each of them in the form of a sequence of three circles connected at their tangents.
This kind of earthenware was regularly produced in Jazira during the Atabeg period (6th / 12th century). Production of ceramics in the region was interrupted by the Mongol invasion in the 7th / 13th centuries (1269).
Purchased in 1932.
This piece was found in Raqqa, in the Jazira region. Ceramics with monochrome glazes and decoration cut into the base were known to have been produced in Jazira at this time, and many have emerged during archaeological excavations.
Abu al-Faraj al-Ush, M., A Concise Guide to the National Museum of Damascus, Damascus, 1969, p.229.
Delpont, E. (ed), L'Orient de Saladin: l'art des Ayyoubides, Paris, 2001, p.156.
Porter, V., Medieval Syrian Pottery, Oxford, 1981.
Porter, V., and Watson, O., “'Tel Minis' Wares”, in Syria and Iran: Three Studies in Medieval Ceramics, Oxford, 1987, pp.173–248.
Soustiel, J., and Kiefer, C., La céramique islamique, Fribourg, 1985, p.134; fig. 158.
Mona al-Moadin "Plate" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2018. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;sy;Mus01;23;en
Prepared by: Mona Al-Moadin
Translation by: Hilary Kalmbach (from the Arabic)
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: SY 29
Islamic Dynasties / Period
On display in
Discover Islamic Art Exhibition(s)The Atabegs and Ayyubids | Court Life Arabic Calligraphy | Kufic Script
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