Name of Object:



London, England, United Kingdom

Holding Museum:

Victoria and Albert Museum

About Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Date of Object:

About hegira 914 / AD 1510

Museum Inventory Number:


Material(s) / Technique(s):

Painted and glazed ceramic.


Height 23.5 cm, diameter 43.2 cm

Period / Dynasty:



Iznik, Turkey.


A large, footed bowl, decorated with underglaze painting in blue, white, and a dark cobalt-blue. The exterior features prominent cloud-bands and arabesques executed in white on a blue background. Both are characterised by the use of tight spirals, as for example in the cloud-bands and the floral motifs interspersed between them. The foot is encircled by a chain of floral motifs. The bowl's interior features a central medallion with a pattern of arabesques and floral stems. It sits at the centre of an eight-pointed star-shape formed by lines in dark cobalt on a white background sprinkled with dot-motifs. The points of the star, in turn, have pendants which are framed by a repeat pattern in blue containing arabesque patterns in an idiom similar to those in the bowl's centre. 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. A nearly identical bowl survives in the Louvre (inv. no. 7880–92), suggesting that a common mould and design model (probably a drawing) were used for both objects.

This bowl is one of a group of similar wares which have been attributed to a workshop whose chief designer has been dubbed 'Master of the Knots'. A favourite motif of this workshop is the use of interlacing lines to form elaborate knot-patterns, as seen in the interior of this bowl. Decorative knot-patterns were common not only in Ottoman art of the late AH 9th / AD 15th century, but in the wider Islamic world as well (compare, for example, the patterns on 'Veneto-Saracenic' metalwork).

View Short Description

A very large footed bowl on a high foot, decorated with prominent cloud-bands and arabesques in white on a blue background. 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 (see description).

How Object was obtained:

Bequest of George Salting in 1910.

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.93, fig. 95.

Lane, A., Later Islamic Pottery: Persia, Syria, Egypt, Turkey, London, 1957, p.45 and p.48.

Stanley, T., with Rosser-Owen, M., and Vernoit, S., Palace and Mosque: Islamic Art from the Middle East, London, 2004, pp.102–3.

Citation of this web page:

Barry Wood "Bowl" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2021.;ISL;uk;Mus02;45;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 57


 Artistic Introduction

 Timeline for this item

Islamic Dynasties / Period


On display in

Discover Islamic Art Exhibition(s)

Water | Water Usage: Drinking and Washing

MWNF Galleries


See also

Virtual Visit Exhibition Trail

EARLY OTTOMAN ART - Legacy of the Emirates


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