Name of Object:

Plate with lotus leaves


Raqqada, Kairouan, Tunisia

Holding Museum:

Museum of Islamic Art

About Museum of Islamic Art, Raqqada.

Date of Object:

Hegira, last third of the 4th century or beginning of the 5th century / AD 10th–11th centuries

Museum Inventory Number:

C 5

Material(s) / Technique(s):

Glazed and decorated ceramic.


Height 7 cm, diameter 27 cm; diameter (of base) 10 cm, thickness 0.6 cm

Period / Dynasty:

Aghlabid–Early Fatimid


Raqqada or Kairouan.


Plate with circular base and curved rim. The beige background is tin-glazed with no slip. The decoration is in green and yellow ochre with lively floral and geometric patterns. On the rim there are repeated sequences of two green and one ochre semi-circle. A similar juxtaposition of tones is used to great effect in the middle of the plate, where a central six-pointed star is surrounded by alternating spirals and lotus leaves.
This striking combination of exuberance, richness and variety of ornamentation is rare in Oriental ceramics of this period. The colourful, stylised flora achieves a complex rhythmic effect.

View Short Description

The floral and geometric decoration on this ring-based dish combines green and yellow ochre. The richness and variety of its ornamentation are typical of Aghlabid ceramics, with the colours, hues and stylised flora creating a very varied rhythmic effect.

How date and origin were established:

Raqqada, the Aghlabid capital, was built in 263 / 876. Since the plate was discovered on the excavation site, this date must be a terminus ante quem. Moreover, the colours and decoration of the piece are typical of the Aghlabid period, which ends with the advent of the Fatimids in 296 / 909. So it is probable that the latter date is the terminus post quem for the plate, even though the same type of work may have continued into the early Fatimid era.

How Object was obtained:

The plate was among objects discovered on site during the 1960 excavations at Raqqada. Initially kept on site, the piece was put on display in 1986 at the Museum of Islamic Art at Raqqada.

How provenance was established:

The discovery of this plate, made and painted in the Ifriqiyan manner, on site at Raqqada appears to confirm that it was produced locally in the pottery workshops of Kairouan or Raqqada.

Selected bibliography:

30 ans au service du patrimoine (exhibition catalogue), 1986, p.251.
Tunisie: du christianisme a l'islam (exhibition catalogue), Lattes, 2001, p.184.
Tunisie, terre de rencontres et de civilisation (Seville exhibition catalogue), Tunis,
1992, p.274.
Ifriqiya: Thirteen Centuries of Art and Architecture in Tunisia, pp.173–4.

Citation of this web page:

Mourad Rammah "Plate with lotus leaves" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2020.;ISL;tn;Mus01;19;en

Prepared by: Mourad RammahMourad Rammah

Né en 1953 à Kairouan, docteur en archéologie islamique, Mourad Rammah est le conservateur de la médina de Kairouan. Lauréat du prix Agha Khan d'architecture, il publie divers articles sur l'histoire de l'archéologie médiévale islamique en Tunisie et participe à différentes expositions sur l'architecture islamique. De 1982 à 1994, il est en charge du département de muséographie du Centre des arts et des civilisations islamiques. Mourad Rammah est également directeur du Centre des manuscrits de Kairouan.

Copyedited by: Margot Cortez
Translation by: David Ash
Translation copyedited by: Mandi GomezMandi Gomez

Amanda Gomez is a freelance copy-editor and proofreader working in London. She studied Art History and Literature at Essex University (1986–89) and received her MA (Area Studies Africa: Art, Literature, African Thought) from SOAS in 1990. She worked as an editorial assistant for the independent publisher Bellew Publishing (1991–94) and studied at Bookhouse and the London College of Printing on day release. She was publications officer at the Museum of London until 2000 and then took a role at Art Books International, where she worked on projects for independent publishers and arts institutions that included MWNF’s English-language editions of the books series Islamic Art in the Mediterranean. She was part of the editorial team for further MWNF iterations: Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean Virtual Museum and the illustrated volume Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean.

True to its ethos of connecting people through the arts, MWNF has provided Amanda with valuable opportunities for discovery and learning, increased her editorial experience, and connected her with publishers and institutions all over the world. More recently, the projects she has worked on include MWNF’s Sharing History Virtual Museum and Exhibition series, Vitra Design Museum’s Victor Papanek and Objects of Desire, and Haus der Kulturen der Welt’s online publication 2 or 3 Tigers and its volume Race, Nation, Class.

MWNF Working Number: TN 29


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