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Abbasid Bowl with Man holding a Cup, 10th Century, Iraq

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Bowl depicting a Man holding a Cup and a Flowering Branch
Date: 10th century
Geography: Iraq
Culture: Islamic
Medium: Earthenware; luster-painted on opaque white glaze
Dimensions: H. 2 7/16 in. (6.2 cm) Diam. 9 5/16 in. (23.7 cm)
Classification: Ceramics
Luster ceramics from Samarra often include stylized human figures. In this example, the lively caricatural quality of the seated man holding a cup and a flowering branch is enhanced by the two birds that hold fish in their beaks but look like they are kissing. The foot bears an Arabic inscription that reads baraka (blessing) in kufic script.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Accession Number: 1977.126

76. Bowl, Lustre Ware in Light Brownish Gold on White Ground
“Post Samarra Ware,” Iraq or Iran, probably 10th c. Height 2¼ in., diameter 9¼ in.
The figure of the man at the bottom of the bowl, surrounded by two birds with fish in their beaks, may seem “primitive” to some 20th-century eyes, but the quality of the lustre belies this.

For similar bowls see Survey [Arthur Upham Pope, ed. A Survey of Persian Art. 6 vols. Oxford, 1938.], pls. 576c, 577, and 579 A, B; Wilkinson [Charles K. Wilkinson. Iranian Ceramics (catalogue of an exhibition at Asia House). New York, 1963.], no. 27.
Source: Islamic Art From The Collection Of Edwin Binney 3rd, The Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. 1966

6. The polychrome luster-painting technique was extremely short-lived; more certain of success was the monochrome variety, since only one color was involved in the execution of a design. It was monochrome luste painting that spread from Iraq to Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Syria, Iran, Spain, England, and eventually to America. This bowl exhibits many of the design characteristics of the monochrome luster painted wares of tenth-century Iraq: the caricature like quality of the seated man holding a beaker in one hand and a flowering branch in the other; the plain border surrounding him and the two birds holding fish in their beaks; the speckled background; the scalloped rim design; and the exterior decoration of a series of three concentric circles evenly spaced around the wall on a field of dashes and dots. The foot bears the Arabic word for "blessing" in Kufic script.
"Islamic Pottery: A Brief History" The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, v. 40, no. 4 (Spring, 1983) Jenkins, Marilyn (1983)

See also: ʿAbbāsid Bowl with Seated Arab Figure, 10th Century, Iraq? Keir Collection, 35.
Back to Abbasid Illustrations of Costume & Soldiers
Other 10th Century Illustrations of Costume & Soldiers

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