Name of Object:

Footed bowl


Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom

Holding Museum:

Royal Museum, National Museums of Scotland (NMS)

About Royal Museum, National Museums of Scotland (NMS), Edinburgh

Date of Object:

Hegira, mid-8th century / AD mid-14th century

Museum Inventory Number:

A. 1981.112

Material(s) / Technique(s):

Incised (sgraffito) red earthenware with a white slip and yellow glaze.


Height 13.4 cm, diameter 21 cm

Period / Dynasty:



Fustat, Cairo, Egypt.


An incised, circular earthenware bowl with steep flaring sides, a rimless lip and a flat base that is supported by a high, splayed foot. Inside the bowl, just below the rim, are fish alternating with brief inscriptions in thuluth script. On the outside, underneath the rim, is a scroll band and beneath this, above the foot, is a pseudo-epigraphic frieze. This bowl is a typical example of sgraffito earthenware produced in Mamluk Cairo, being a rather crude utilitarian ware, the reddish body of which is covered with a white slip with sgraffito decoration under a yellow, or sometimes green, glaze. Additional elements of the design, particularly epigraphic details and blazons, are generally highlighted in brown slip, an approach that echoes, conceptually at least, the metal inlay on contemporary brass vessels. Many pieces of this type have been attributed to one particular contemporary potter named Sharaf al-Abawani.

View Short Description

The potters of Mamluk Cairo produced much utilitarian ware from coarse red clay, a white slip through which the decoration was carved and a yellow-green glaze. Epigraphic details and blazons are often highlighted in brown slip, an approach that echoes the metal inlay on contemporary brass vessels.

How date and origin were established:

This bowl belongs to a well-known and chronologically defined group of Mamluk ceramics that date to around the mid-8th / 14th century.

How Object was obtained:

Purchased by NMS from Spink and Son Ltd, London, in 1981.

How provenance was established:

Items of this type are known to have been produced at Fustat in Cairo during the Mamluk period. Large quantities of complete vessels and sherds are held by museums worldwide and many sherds have been found at Fustat.

Selected bibliography:

Atil, E., Renaissance of Islam: Art of the Mamluks, Washington D.C., 1981, pp.148–9; p.188, cat. no. 95 (for a similar bowl and other ceramics).

Citation of this web page:

Ulrike Al-Khamis "Footed bowl" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2018.;ISL;uk;Mus03;17;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 17


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Discover Islamic Art Exhibition(s)

The Mamluks | Everyday life in the Mamluk Sultanate

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