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Lustreware Bottle

The place of manufacture of most lustreware is uncertain, but it seems likely that much of it was made in Kashan, Iran, where several potters signed or dated lustred pottery and tiles. Manufacture was at its peak during the second half of the 12th century and the 13th century.

This dish is made from fritware, the hard, white artificial fabric which revolutionised pottery manufacture in 12th century Iran. Fritware’s strength facilitated the creation of large pieces, but as it was a rather stiff and unpliable material, fritware vessels were generally moulded rather than thrown on the wheel. The fritware paste would be rolled out and pressed into a mould, and later scraped down when semi-dry to achieve the required thinness. 

The lustre pigment, containing silver and copper oxides, ochre, and either vinegar or grape juice, was painted onto the pottery over the fired glaze, and was then fired again at a low temperature. During this firing the oxygen in the kiln was reduced by stoking the fire to produce a smoky atmosphere, and this caused the metals to adhere to the surface. After firing, the pottery was cleaned to reveal the splendid iridescence of the lustre. The dark brassy colour, typical of lusterware pieces from Kashan, indicates that silver rather than copper oxide was used in the manufacture of this lustre glaze.