London, England, United Kingdom
The British Museum
About hegira 951–956 / AD 1545–50
Stone-paste ceramic with blue, turquoise and olive-green painting under the glaze.
Height 27.3 cm, diameter 42 cm
A large, footed bowl made of stone-paste ceramic and painted under the glaze with an array of leaves and floral devices. The colours used are manganese, sage-green, blue, and black. Around the outside is the serrated edged so-called saz leaf, an imaginary form that becomes popular on Iznik ceramics during the AH 930s to 50s / AD 1530s to 50s. Inside is a striking geometric arrangement of medallions containing cloud scrolls, enclosed between sprays of blue bells. This splendid bowl, with its bold painted design, was probably made for the Imperial court, perhaps for washing the feet of Suleyman the Magnificent himself (r. AH 926–73 / AD 1520–66).
This footed bowl exemplifies a type of ceramic produced during the 930s to 50s / 1530s to 50s, known collectively as one of the ‘Damascus’ group, as it was once thought to originate there. It has since been proven that the Damascus variety originated from Iznik designs, characterised in particular by the introduction of certain colours – olive-green, black and manganese purple – and the appearance of the so-called saz leaf and fantastical flowers.
Such a splendid footed bowl almost certainly belonged to the royal court, perhaps for storing water to wash Süleyman the Magnificent himself. Due to the sage-green, manganese, blue and black underglaze decoration of saz leaves and fantastical flowers, this bowl is grouped with so-called Damascus wares.
A mosque lamp in the British Museum dated 955 (1549) provides the key to dating both this bowl and all other vessels employing a similar colour scheme and using such motifs as the cloud scroll. Another fixed point is a group of tiles both in the Yeni Kaplica hammam (baths) in Bursa dated 959–60 (1552–3), and in the Ibrahim Pasha Mosque in Istanbul, built in 956 (1550). These tiles have the same colours and decorative motifs as the 'Damascus' group of ceramic objects, such as this bowl.
Part of the Godman Bequest of 1983.
Iznik in Turkey was the main centre of production for underglaze painted ceramics of this style and colour, and using this technique, during the Ottoman period.
Atasoy, N., and Raby, J., Iznik: The Pottery of Ottoman Turkey, London, 1989, cat. no. 96.
Carswell, J., Iznik Pottery, London, 1998, p.54–5 (for a similar bowl in the British Museum).
Roxburgh, D.J., (ed.) Turks: A Journey of a Thousand Years, 600–1600, London, 2005, p.331, p.454.
Emily Shovelton "Footed bowl" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2019. http://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;uk;Mus01;40;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 Gomez
MWNF Working Number: UK1 56
Islamic Dynasties / Period
On display in
Discover Islamic Art Exhibition(s)The Ottomans | Court Life
Virtual Visit Exhibition Trail
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