No. 14     Bowl with lustre decoration 

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Kashan style, 13th century

Fritware painted in lustre

Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, POT 1563


While the bowl’s exterior lustre decoration is modest, its inside contains a complex freeform geometrical pattern. In the centre lies a six-point star with drop-shape units containing birds or animals in the interstices. The finials proceeding from the drops may derive from manuscript illumination. Verses run between these finials. Two from the Shahnameh read: ‘Partake of what you have, then give away. Give not your hard-won to your enemy’ or possibly: ‘Are you distressed? Blame not your enemy.’ The former translation seems more plausible, given the likely use of the bowl in a hospitable setting.


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