Name of Object:



London, England, United Kingdom

Holding Museum:

Victoria and Albert Museum

About Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Date of Object:

Around hegira 949–54 / AD 1545–50

Museum Inventory Number:


Material(s) / Technique(s):

Painted and glazed ceramic.


Height 28 cm, diameter 42.2 cm

Period / Dynasty:



Iznik, Turkey.


A large bowl on a high foot. The decoration, painted in cobalt and turquoise under the glaze, consists of long, continuous stems which coil into tight spiral roundels. This is a decorative style which flourished in Ottoman ceramics between about the 1520s and the 1550s. It is often called the 'Golden Horn' style in reference to the area in Istanbul where such wares were once thought – probably erroneously – to have been made. Another name, less frequently used, is the 'tuğrakeş spiral' style. This term was devised to emphasize the apparent connection between this style of decoration and that found in products of the Ottoman imperial chancery, whose expert illuminator, the tuğrakeş, was entrusted with decorating the sultan's imperial monogram or tughra. The extraordinary size of this bowl, as well as the skill with which it is decorated, suggests production for the highest levels of the Ottoman hierarchy, although direct evidence for this is lacking.

View Short Description

A very large footed bowl on a high foot, decorated with the tightly coiled spirals sometimes called the ‘Golden Horn’ style. The size and quality of this bowl suggests that it was made for a high-ranking Ottoman official, possibly for washing the feet during ablutions.

How date and origin were established:

Stylistic comparison with other, similarly decorated wares and with the illumination of imperial monograms in the period mentioned in the description.

How Object was obtained:

Purchased by the Museum in 1876.

How provenance was established:

Iznik was the centre of quality ceramic production in this period.

Selected bibliography:

Atasoy, N., and Raby, J., Iznik: The Pottery of Ottoman Turkey, Istanbul/London, 1989, p.110, fig. 235 and pl. 324.

Denny, W., "Ceramics," Turkish Art (ed. E. Atil), Washington, DC, 1980, p.279.

Stanley, T., with Rosser-Owen, M. and Vernoit, S., Palace and Mosque: Islamic Art from the Middle East, London, 2004, p.56, p.102.

Citation of this web page:

Barry Wood "Bowl" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2021.;ISL;uk;Mus02;28;en

Prepared by: Barry WoodBarry Wood

Barry Wood is Curator (Islamic Gallery Project) in the Asian Department of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. He studied history of art at Johns Hopkins University and history of Islamic art and architecture at Harvard University, from where he obtained his Ph.D. in 2002. He has taught at Harvard, Eastern Mediterranean University, the School of Oriental and African Studies, and the Courtauld Institute of Art. He has also worked at the Harvard University Art Museums and the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. He has published on topics ranging from Persian manuscripts to the history of exhibitions.

Copyedited by: Mandi GomezMandi Gomez

Amanda Gomez is a freelance copy-editor and proofreader working in London. She studied Art History and Literature at Essex University (1986–89) and received her MA (Area Studies Africa: Art, Literature, African Thought) from SOAS in 1990. She worked as an editorial assistant for the independent publisher Bellew Publishing (1991–94) and studied at Bookhouse and the London College of Printing on day release. She was publications officer at the Museum of London until 2000 and then took a role at Art Books International, where she worked on projects for independent publishers and arts institutions that included MWNF’s English-language editions of the books series Islamic Art in the Mediterranean. She was part of the editorial team for further MWNF iterations: Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean Virtual Museum and the illustrated volume Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean.

True to its ethos of connecting people through the arts, MWNF has provided Amanda with valuable opportunities for discovery and learning, increased her editorial experience, and connected her with publishers and institutions all over the world. More recently, the projects she has worked on include MWNF’s Sharing History Virtual Museum and Exhibition series, Vitra Design Museum’s Victor Papanek and Objects of Desire, and Haus der Kulturen der Welt’s online publication 2 or 3 Tigers and its volume Race, Nation, Class.

MWNF Working Number: UK2 32


 Artistic Introduction

 Timeline for this item

Islamic Dynasties / Period


On display in

MWNF Galleries


See also

Virtual Visit Exhibition Trail

EARLY OTTOMAN ART - Legacy of the Emirates


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