Name of Object:



Madrid, Spain

Holding Museum:

National Archaeological Museum

 About National Archaeological Museum, Madrid

Date of Object:

Hegira 802–38 / AD 1400–35

Museum Inventory Number:


Material(s) / Technique(s):

Ceramic; glazing, metallic highlights.


Height 4.5 cm, maximum diameter 41.5 cm, base diameter 34.8 cm

Period / Dynasty:

Nasrid or Mudéjar


Nasrid kingdom of Granada or Christian kingdom of Valencia, Spain.


'Brazier' dish with a large, flat circular base and straight, shallow sides finished with a narrow brim. The piece is made of red clay and covered with a tin glaze. It is decorated with gold and cobalt-blue metallic highlights on a creamy white background. The base of the dish, decorated with plant arabesques typical of Granada, is divided into quadrants with alternating blue and golden motifs. The brim is decorated with an arabesque composition with thin blue intertwined ribbons. Golden spirals fill and break up the white background throughout the piece.
Technically, ceramics from the AH 8th and 9th / AD 14th and 15th century are no more than a continuation of the Almohad tradition. However, the incorporation of cobalt oxide into the glaze in the Nasrid era gave rise to a wide range of blues, and the application of copper sulphate, silver and red ochre to achieve metallic highlights resulted in some exceptional pieces. Centuries-old gilded Andalusian ceramics had their heyday during the Nasrid reign in Granada.
The manufacture of this type of ceramic required three firings. The final firing, in a reduction kiln, was the most delicate as it required perfect control of the kiln and its temperature. The mix of metal sulphides had to adhere to the piece without the glaze from the previous firing melting again.
The importance of the pottery workshops of the kingdom of Granada, and specifically of Malaga as the main centre of production, caused the expression obra de maliqa (made in Maliqa) to be used, with some variations, to refer to gilded ceramics regardless of where they were produced. This term was also used in the Christian world for pottery workshops of Nasrid origin that, from the late AH 8th / AD 14th century, began to move to various places on the east coast of Spain, of which Manises was the most important centre for highlighted ceramics produced in the Malaga style for Christian customers.

View Short Description

This enormous dish represents a continuation of the technique and decorative style of Nasrid ceramicists in Mudéjar workshops to meet the needs of their Christian clientele, who wanted new shapes like this shallow dish with its flat base, straight sides and horizontal rim.

How date and origin were established:

The perfect development of the technique, the type of decoration and the style of the plant arabesques are characteristic of ceramics with golden highlights from the first third of the 9th / 15th century.

How Object was obtained:

The piece was purchased for the National Archaeological Museum by the State on 6 June 1875.

How provenance was established:

The growing decadence of the Nasrid kingdom, along with the development of the maritime power of the kingdom of Aragon and its control over the trade routes of the Mediterranean resulted in Mudéjar centres, contemporaries of the Nasrid producers that used the same traditional procedures and decorative styles, springing up around the east coast. The intense colour of the cobalt and its shape are more characteristic of Valencian pieces, but only an analysis of the clays could determine the precise origin of the piece.

Selected bibliography:

Camps Cazorla, E., Catálogo Sumario del Museo Arqueológico Nacional. Cerámica Española (Nuevas Instalaciones), Madrid, 1936, pp.28–30.
Camps Cazorla, E., La Cerámica Medieval Española, Madrid, 1943, p.29.
Martínez Caviró, B., Cerámica Hispanomusulmana Andalusí y Mudéjar, Madrid, 1991, pp.76–82.
Pérez Higuera, T., Objetos e Imágenes de al-Andalus, Barcelona, 1994, pp.24–5.

Citation of this web page:

Margarita Sánchez Llorente "Dish" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2020.;ISL;es;Mus01;28;en

Prepared by: Margarita Sánchez Llorente
Copyedited by: Rosalía Aller
Translation by: Laurence Nunny
Translation copyedited by: Monica Allen

MWNF Working Number: SP 45