Name of Object:

Bowl fragment


Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom

Holding Museum:

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow Museums

About Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow Museums, Glasgow

Date of Object:

Hegira 7th–8th century / AD 13th–14th century

Museum Inventory Number:


Material(s) / Technique(s):

Stone-paste (fritware) with black and cobalt-blue decoration under a transparent, colourless glaze.


Height 4.5 cm (max), width 10.5 cm (max)

Period / Dynasty:



Produced in Damascus, Syria; found at Fustat, Egypt.


A fragment from a stone-paste (fritware) bowl decorated in cobalt-blue and black under a transparent colourless glaze. This fragment, from the centre of the dish, is decorated with a roundel within which is Arabic calligraphy intertwined with organic stems and leaves. A band of black and white decoration surrounds the roundel. The design and technique of this bowl was common in both Syria and Egypt, making identification of the place of production very difficult. The difficulty lies in the fact that the potters of both Mamluk Egypt and Syria migrated in search of work between the cities of the two regions. The fashion for painting in black and blue under a transparent glaze started in Iran during the late AH 7th / AD 13th century, and spread quickly to Syria and Egypt. The main distinguishing features between wares made in Iran, Syria or Egypt are the different shapes and sizes of the pieces.

View Short Description

Arabic calligraphy was employed to decorate a wide variety of surfaces. Although not enough of the text survives to be deciphered, proverbs, poetic verses and prayers were frequently used. The strong vertical lines of the naskhi-style script dominate the centre of the cobalt-blue and black bowl.

How date and origin were established:

Stylistic analysis: the material composition, glaze and decoration of this fragment are typical of ceramics made in the potteries of Syria. Several similar examples have been found in Fustat indicating that ceramics from the Middle East were brought to trade in Egypt.

How Object was obtained:

Donated to the Museum in 1944.

Selected bibliography:

Grube, E. J., Cobalt and Lustre: The First Centuries of Islamic Pottery, The Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, Vol.9, London, 1994.

Lane, A., Later Islamic Pottery: Persia, Syria, Egypt, Turkey, London, 1971.

Citation of this web page:

Noorah Al-Gailani "Bowl fragment" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2018.;ISL;uk;Mus04;24;en

Prepared by: Noorah Al-GailaniNoorah Al-Gailani

Noorah Al-Gailani is Curator for Islamic Civilisations at Glasgow Museums, Scotland. With a BA in Interior Design from the College of Fine Arts, Baghdad University and three years' experience in design and folk art preservation, she moved to the UK in 1992. On completing her MA in Museum Studies at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London in 1994, she worked as Project Officer at the Grange Museum of Community History documenting the presence of Muslim communities in the London Borough of Brent. In 1995 she was Assistant Curator, Ancient Monuments Laboratory, English Heritage, and in 1996 became Curator for John Wesley's House and the Museum of Methodism in London. She co-authored The Islamic Year: Surahs, Stories and Celebrations (Stroud: Hawthorn Press, 2002) for non-Muslim children. Since 2003 she has been based at The Burrell Collection in Glasgow, working across the city's museums to interpret Islamic art and culture, ancient and modern, through research, exhibitions and educational activities.

Copyedited by: Mandi Gomez

MWNF Working Number: UK4 28B


 Artistic Introduction

 Timeline for this item

Islamic Dynasties / Period


On display in

MWNF Galleries

Calligraphy Ceramics

See also


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