Jug with spout
National Museum of Damascus
Hegira 6th–first half of the 7th century / AD 12th–first half of the 13th century
ع / 1135
Earthenware decorated with metallic lustre glaze.
Height 25.5 cm, diameter (of mouth) 7.5 cm
Earthenware ceramics with a dark-brown metallic lustre glaze were produced in the city of Raqqa during the AH 6th–first half of the 7th / AD 12th–first half of the 13th centuries. What distinguishes these ceramics from those made in other places and periods are the types of colours used, particularly distinctive is the dark-brown.
This jug represents a ceramic of this type. It has a columnar base, a globe-shaped body and a long cylindrical neck with an outward flaying lip. It is outfitted with a long tubular spout and a handle that juts out parallel to the lip and which curves perpendicularly downward to attach at the periphery of the body.
The jug is decorated with dark-brown lustre glaze from the top of the lip, spout, handle, and neck all the way down to the bulk of the globular body, applied in a series of horizontal bands portraying calligraphic, pseudo-calligraphic, stylised vegetal and geometric patterns. Contrasts in colour intensity and band width are also part of the decorative scheme. The transparent, dark-brown metallic lustre is covered with a layer of very light-green glaze.
The region of Raqqa was a prolific producer of fine-quality underglazed lustre ceramics just before the Mongol invasion. The brown colour of this lustre is typical of Raqqa-ware.
Lustre ware in this shade of dark-brown is known to have been produced in the 6th–first half of the 7th / 12th–first half of the 13th centuries in Raqqa. Production of ceramics ended after the Mongol invasion and destruction of the city in 656–7 / 1258–9.
The piece was exchanged between the Damascus and Aleppo museums in 1931.
Wares with decorations of this type are known to have been produced in Raqqa, as evidenced by the studies of many Islamic scholars, including Oliver Watson.
Abu al-Faraj al-Ush, M., A Concise Guide to the National Museum of Damascus, Damascus, 1969, pp.231–2.
Caiger-Smith, A., Lustre Pottery: Technique, Tradition and Innovation in Islam and the Western World, London, 1985.
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.
Watson, O., Ceramics from Islamic Lands, London, 2004, pp.292–3.
Mona al-Moadin "Jug with spout" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2020. http://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;sy;Mus01;26;en
Prepared by: Mona Al-Moadin
Translation by: Hilary Kalmbach (from the Arabic)
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: SY 36