Tareq Rajab Museum


http://www.trmkt.com/gif/plate.gifCeramics in the Museum

By Dr Geza Fehervari


The Tareq Rajab Museum's pottery collection is very large and comprehensive, including vessels from pre-Islamic times right up to the first part of the 20th century. The earliest vessels date from the late Parthian - early Sasanian periods, while the latest ones are from Palestine, made in the 1930s. The total registered number of pottery objects is 2044 (January, 1997). The different types of pottery vessels and tiles are described under the following headings



Lead-Glazed Relief wares  owe their origin to Roman pottery and they frequently copy the relief decorations of contemporary metal vessels. Their date is considered to be of the late 8th or 9th century. They were discovered at excavations in Egypt, Syria and Iraq, but only very few in Iran. CER1627TSRThe Tareq Rajab Museum possesses only three such vessels. One of them is a green glazed bowl with relief decoration (CER1524TSR), the second one is a fragmentary and much restored piece, a ewer (CER1627TSR) and the third is a pottery lamp with four wick holes (CER0027TSR). CER0027TSR






Opaque white glazed wares  were made during the early Abbasid period, i.e. 9th and 10th centuries AD. It was the Chinese T'ang period white porcelain and stoneware, much admired in the Islamic world, which gave the impCER0031TSRetus to Near Eastern potters to imitate it some way. Since they were unable to produce porcelain, they produced earthenware vessels in the shapes of Chinese examples and coated them with an opaque white or greyish tin glaze. The vessels then were provided CER1739TSRwith cobalt-blue decoration, showing either simple flowers, trees or just inscriptions, sometime giving the name of its artist, like e.g. on a bowl, stating that it was "made by Ubayd" (CER0031TSR), or a second piece wishing blessing to its owner and giving the name of a potter, called Ahmad (CER1739TSR). These two objects were most likely made at Basra in Iraq. A third example with flowers andCER0041TSR garlands is painted in cobalt-blue and green and was most likely made in Iran, perhaps at Nishapur(CER0041TSR). There are twenty opaque white glazed wares in the Museum.





Splashed wares may be connected, some scholar claim, to T'ang polychrome wares. Splashed ware must haveCER0903TSR been very CER0166TSR popular, since it was present all over in the Near and Middle East. There are ten such examples in the Museum's collection and among them is a lamp, decorated with splashes of green and brown is an interesting piece (CER0903TSR). Several of these splashed wares in addition to the colourful splashes also have incised, sgraffiato designs under the glaze, like e.g. bowls CER0166TSR and CER0171TSRCER0171TSR.





Slip-painted wares  which played an important role in Khurasan and Central Asia during the Samanid period, are also well represented in the collection. All together there are 289 pieces, representing every type of this ware. Among them aCER0582TSR unique and outstanding piece is a large bowl, the so-called "polychrome-on-white" ware, decorated with an epigraphic inscription, written in simple Kufic style and presenting a quotation from the Qur'an, CER1528TSRSurat al-Qalam, verses 51-52 and giving its date as 300AH, equivalent to AD912 (CER0582TSR). So far this is the earliest known pottery with a Quranic inscription and the only dated one of the slip-painted wares. Another prominent piece is again a large bowl of the "black-on-white" type(CER1528TSR), with a beautifully written floriated and plaited Kufic inscription, which is proverb, apparently frequently used by Prophet Muhammad.



Seljug White Wares  Seljuq white wares are a version of the above coloured monochrome-glazed type. There are 62CER0211TSR sCER1748TSRuch vessels in the Museum. The glaze on these vessels is entirely colourless, except for its greenish tinge and it covers the composite white body which may be decorated with incised, pierced or moulded designs and occasionally with cobalt-blue splashes under the glaze. A bowl in the Museum's collection is perhaps the best example for this ware. The cavetto has incised and pierced decoration and four splashes of green, while at the base, where the glaze collected, it has a greenish tinge(CER1748TSR). Another prominent piece is the flower vase which has four small vases attached to the body and between cobalt-blue stripes CER1583TSR(CER0211TSR). Nevertheless the finest example of these Seljuq white wares in the Museum is a jar with extensive moulded decoration showing running animals, including a dragon and pierced all around, so it is translucent (CER1583TSR). This type of pottery was also produced in Afghanistan and aCER1757TSR beautifully decorated object is a small bowl which, in addition to its moulded, incised and pierced decoration was painted and splashed with cobalt-blue and manganese(CER1757TSR).





CER0657TSRLaqabi ware  is closely related to Aghkand sgraffiato pottery and the raised or incised lines serve the purpose to separate the various colours of the decoration. This type of pottery was made in Syria, although there is evidence that it was also present in Iran. Although up to date we have no dated examples, yet, archaeological evidence indicates a 12th century date for the entire group. They are mainly large dishes or plates, decorated with birds or animals. The Tareq Rajab Museum possesses a rare and unique laqabi piece, a jug, decorated with a moulded epigraphic band (CER0657TSR).



CER0214TSRSilhouette wares were a speciality of Iranian potters during the 12th and early 13th centuries. The technique involves anCER0218TSR extensive black slip which, depending on which side the potters wanted to decorate, covers either the inside or the outside of the vessel out of which the design was carved out (just like in the champleve or carved sgraffiato) and then it was coated with a colourless or coloured transparent glaze. There are 14 silhouette wares in the Museum and all of them were coated with a coloured glaze. One of them is a jug decorated on the outside, showing four running animals (CER0218TSR). A second example is a bowl and the carved decoration shows a peacock against a scroll ground (CER0214TSR).


Tareq Rajab Museum

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