Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Royal Museum, National Museums of Scotland (NMS)
Hegira late 5th–early 6th century / AD late 12th–early 13th century
Stone-paste (fritware) with black underglaze and clear turquoise alkaline glaze.
Height 10.4 cm, diameter 22 cm
A footed circular bowl with steep, curved sides that taper towards a flattened rim which projects towards the inside of the bowl. Underneath a clear turquoise glaze that stops short of the foot, the bowl is decorated extensively with black underglaze as seen for example on the rim: a succession of broad, black stripes. Around the interior wall of the bowl is a band that is defined only by borders composed of three fine lines above and below; individual lozenges have been disposed within this band at regular intervals. The wide base of the bowl is occupied by a roundel containing a large cursive inscription, set against a stylised scrolling background and enhanced by densely placed dots. The inscription reads: ‘al-‘afiyah’ (‘Good Health’). On the outside of the bowl there are short illegible cursive inscriptions.
Other than Iran, the City of Raqqa was the centre for high-quality ceramics producing a sizeable quantity of artistically inventive and technically varied ceramic vessels and tiles during the late 5th–early 6th / late 12th–mid-13th centuries. The black-and-turquoise ware exemplified by this dish is typical of ceramics from Raqqa during this period. This group is characterised by a rather coarse and grainy stone-paste with a glaze that tends to deteriorate and, as a result, often shows varying degrees of iridescence.
Syria was an important centre for the production of artistically inventive and technically varied ceramics during the AH late 5th–early 6th / AD late 12th and mid 13th centuries. Many pieces show black decoration under a turquoise glaze, often incorporating wishes for good health or blessings.
The bowl belongs to a well-defined group of late 5th–early 6th / late 12th–mid-13th-century Syrian pottery.
Purchased by NMS in 1976 from Bluett and Sons Ltd in London, the item was had been on loan to the Royal Museum since 1960 from the Sir Eldred Hitchcock Collection, also based in London. During that time, the item was registered under loan number L.421.31. It was eventually bought by NMS in 1976 from Bluett and Son acting on behalf of the son of the owner.
Ceramic wares executed using this technique are currently attributed to late 5th–early 6th / late 12th –mid-13th-century Syria, with an active centre for the production of such wares attributed to Raqqa in Syria.
Lane, A., Islamic Pottery from the Ninth to the Fourteenth Centuries A.D. in the Collection of Sir Eldred Hitchcock, London 1956, fig. 32, cat. no. 68.
Ulrike Al-Khamis "Footed bowl" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2019. http://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;uk;Mus03;10;en
Prepared by: Ulrike Al-KhamisUlrike Al-Khamis
Ulrike Al-Khamis is Principal Curator for the Middle East and South Asia at the National Museums of Scotland in Edinburgh. She began her academic career in Germany before completing her BA (1st class Hons) in Islamic Art and Archaeology at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London in 1987. The same year she moved to Edinburgh, where she completed her Ph.D. thesis on “Early Islamic Bronze and Brass Ewers from the 7th to the 13th Century AD” in 1994. From 1994 to 1999 she worked as Curator of Muslim Art and Culture for Glasgow Museums and, in 1997, was one of the main instigators of the first ever Scottish Festival of Muslim Culture, SALAAM. Since 1999 she has been based at the Royal Museum in Edinburgh, where she has curated several exhibitions and continues to publish aspects of the collections. In addition to her museum work she has contributed regularly to the teaching of the Fine Arts Department at the University of Edinburgh.
Copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: UK3 10