Name of Object:



London, England, United Kingdom

Holding Museum:

The British Museum

About The British Museum, London

Date of Object:

Hegira 6th–7th century / AD 12th–13th century

Museum Inventory Number:


Material(s) / Technique(s):

Relief-decorated and lustre-painted earthenware.


Height 19 cm, length 28 cm, width 13.5 cm

Period / Dynasty:



Raqqa, Syria.


A rectangular stand with four legs and two holes in the top, made with slabs of moulded clay, decorated in relief and 'lustre-painted'. The relief design on each of the wider sides of the stand comprises pairs of griffons surrounded by swirling arabesques. 'Lustre-painted' pottery was produced in Abbasid Iraq before the technique appeared in Fatimid Egypt and was possibly introduced by migrating craftsmen. After the end of the Fatimid dynasty, the lustre technique sprang up in Ayyubid Syria, again probably brought by craftsmen who moved to areas where they would find the greatest patronage. Lustre painting was one of the most popular decorative techniques of 'Raqqa ware'; a type of pottery produced in AH 6th–7th- / AD 12th–13th-century northern Syria. The original use of objects similar to this stand is not certain although the turned legs on some objects of this type imply that they were adapted from wooden models, making it possible, therefore, that the stand was used as a table and that the holes in the top were used to hold bowls, drinking vessels, oil lamps or ink pots.

View Short Description

The exact use of this lustre-painted ceramic stand is unknown. It may have been adapted from a wooden table; the holes at the top could have been used to hold bowls, drinking vessels, oil lamps or ink pots.

How date and origin were established:

A large number of stands like this one survive from the Ayyubid period.

How Object was obtained:

Donated by Georges Tabbagh in 1924.

How provenance was established:

The style and technique correlate with similar ceramic objects produced in Raqqa. Furthermore, this stand was found in Raqqa, Syria.

Selected bibliography:

Grube E. J., and others, Cobalt and Lustre: the First Centuries of Islamic Pottery, London, 1994, pp.284–7 (for similar stands).
Lane, A., Early Islamic Pottery, London, 1947, p.39.

Porter, V., Medieval Syrian Pottery, Oxford, 1981, p.36.

Citation of this web page:

Emily Shovelton "Stand" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2021.;ISL;uk;Mus01;15;en

Prepared by: Emily ShoveltonEmily Shovelton

Emily Shovelton is a historian of Islamic art. She studied history of art at Edinburgh University before completing an MA in Islamic and Indian art at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London. Since graduating she has worked on a number of projects at the British Museum. Other recent work includes editing and writing for a digital database of architectural photographs at the British Library. She is currently working on a Ph.D. on “Sultanate Painting in 15th-century India and its relationship to Persian, Mamluk and Indian Painting”, to be completed at SOAS in 2006. A paper on Sultanate painting given at the Conference of European Association of South Asian Archaeologists, held in the British Museum in July 2005, is due to be published next year.

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: UK1 18


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