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Eastern Art Online, Yousef Jameel Centre for Islamic and Asian Art

Ashmolean − Eastern Art Online, Yousef Jameel Centre for Islamic and Asian Art

Islamic Ceramics trail

Explore over one thousand years of development in Islamic ceramics through our extensive collection.

Detail from bowl with seated figures by a stream, Iran, probably Kashan, 1211-1212 (Museum number: EA1956.33)
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Pottery in Iran 1400-1750

Blue-and-white ware

From the 14th century onwards, a new type of Chinese porcelain made in the kilns of Jingdezhen and painted in cobalt blue began to reach the Middle Eastern markets in increasing quantity. These expensive and desirable imports stimulated a long-lasting manufacture of local copies, which were steadily produced until the 18th century. From the 15th century, blue-and-white ware played a dominant role in ceramics manufacture in Iran and Central Asia in particular. Close imitations of Chinese originals were produced alongside more inventive interpretations, bringing together Chinese and Islamic patterns and shapes.

Bowl with vegetal decoration (EA2005.25) Bowl with vegetal decoration (EA2005.25)   Dish with flying crane against a floral background (EA1978.1605) Dish with flying crane against a floral background (EA1978.1605)   Jar with birds in a landscape (EA1978.1722) Jar with birds in a landscape (EA1978.1722)   Dish with quails (EA1978.1783) Dish with quails (EA1978.1783)

Glazed decoration development

A much wider variety of underglaze and overglaze painted ware seems to have been produced in Iran from the late-16th century onwards. Vessels and tiles were painted with vegetal and figural decoration combining colours and slips under the glaze. ‘Kubachi ware' is a particular type of polychrome ware produced from the second half of the 16th century, possibly in north-western Iran, and named after the village in Dagestan where numerous examples were found in the 19th century. Their use of colour and approach to vegetal decoration indicates some contact with ceramics produced in Turkey in the 16th and 17th century. On the other hand, the figural representations, often in the form of busts, reflect local contemporary painting styles.

Base of a water pipe with floral decoration (EA1978.1712) Base of a water pipe with floral decoration (EA1978.1712)   Base fragment of a dish depicting a man wearing a turban (EA1978.2292) Base fragment of a dish depicting a man wearing a turban (EA1978.2292)

After almost three centuries of decline, lustre painted vessels enjoyed renewed success in Iran during the 17th century. Lustre was applied mainly on smaller vessels, with vegetal and animal patterns painted on both white and dark blue backgrounds.

Dish with foxes (EAX.1207) Dish with foxes (EAX.1207)   Bottle with antelope in a landscape (EAX.3080) Bottle with antelope in a landscape (EAX.3080)

A wide range of monochrome glazed vessels in various colours continued to be manufactured during the 17th and early 18th centuries. Among them, a particular ware stands out because of its very fine body, pure white colour, and brilliant transparent glaze. These pieces were mostly decorated with thinly incised and pierced patterns, which emphasised their translucency, with only occasional painting in blue and black.

Vase with blossoms and interlocking leaves (EAX.1615) Vase with blossoms and interlocking leaves (EAX.1615)   Ewer with incised floral decoration (EAX.3035) Ewer with incised floral decoration (EAX.3035)   Bowl with foliage and pierced decoration (EA1978.1765) Bowl with foliage and pierced decoration (EA1978.1765)

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