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Seljuq period (1040-1157)




4th quarter of 12th c.


Frit body, overglaze lustre decoration, opaque white glaze


34 cm (h.), 22 cm (diam.)


Purchase, gift of Harry A. Norton, inv. 1939.Dp.8


Archeology and World Cultures

The arrival of the Seljuqs – a Turkic dynasty of central Asia (1038-1307) – in Iran led to a prosperous period of ceramic production marked by an introduction of new techniques and styles. The discovery of fritware (a mixture of quartz, potash and white clay) was the most important innovation during this period. Inspired by Chinese porcelain, fritware allowed for a pure white composite body as the ground for painted designs, and was a more flexible medium to mould, allowing for greater decorative possibilities. The city of Kashan was the leading ceramic production centre in Iran noted for its production of fritware. This ewer, dated to the twelfth century, is an example of Kashan-style lustreware with its deep brown tones set against a white ground and figural composition. The rounded body of this ewer features interlaced bands that divide figural illustrations. Set against a brown background are Turkic figures sitting idly with elongated eyebrows and moon-shaped faces are draped in dotted robes. The narrow neck of the ewer features additional foliated and interlaced bands against white and brown grounds.

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