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made in Iran

Postcard of Bowl.
© National Museums Scotland


This ceramic bowl was made in Iran, possibly at Meshed, in the 17th century. Its body material consists of a small amount of white clay, ground quartz and a soda-lead frit. It is finely textured. Before firing, the vessel was probably covered with a fine slip of the same composition to provide a particularly smooth surface for underglaze painting.

The bowl is decorated with Chinese-inspired landscapes accentuated by birds and diverse flora around the outside. Inside, the bowl is decorated with a central roundel containing another landscape of the style encountered on the outside. The walls are subdivided into panels, each one with a delicate, central flower garland.

In the 17th century, as indeed throughout the previous centuries, Chinese ceramics had a profound influence on the development of Persian pottery. In this period, Meshed and Kerman have been suggested as centres for the production of blue-and-white wares such as this one, made in imitation of contemporary Chinese porcelain which was much desired but expensive. It is interesting to note that the face of the central figure is left blank. Perhaps this might have been done in line with religious conventions within Islam which strongly discouraged figural representation of living beings.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-180-001-238-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0504: National Museums Scotland Part 2
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  A.1921.1294
Date: 16th or 17th century AD
17th century
Material: Earthenware
Subject: Ceramics / blue and white ware
Where: Middle East, Persia
Description: Bowl of glazed earthenware, with flowers and birds in bluish black: Persia, 16th or 17th century AD
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