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Catalog Data

Earthenware painted under glaze
H x W: 3.6 x 21 cm (1 7/16 x 8 1/4 in)
Iran or Afghanistan
10th century
Samanid period
Black stretched-out Kufic inscription on flat rim flange; white engobe ground. Said to have been found in Nishapur. Broken and repaired; small areas of rim restored.
(Atil,1973) This small plate, similar in shape to Numbers 7 and 8, has an Arabic inscription written in a dark-brown slip on its wide rim. The center is decorated with a floral motif composed of four dark-brown curving stems revolving around a disc. Each stem terminates in a trilobed palmette which curves in, counteracted by a split-leaf which is reversed. Four irregular lozenge-shaped red units fill in the area between the palmettes and the leaves. Double red dots adorn the outer volutes of the central composition.
The kufic inscription reads: [arbc] Excellence is a quality of the people of paradise.
This piece, said to have been found in Nishapur, is of the type commonly called Samarkand or Afrasiab ware.
The exact provenance of red and black slip-painted wares, decorated with Arabic inscriptions surrounding a revolving central motif, is far from solved. Both the Nishapur and Samarkand excavations have unearthed pieces which employ similar compositions. As also seen with the epigraphic wares, this style was produced throughout the urban centers of northeastern Iran, reflecting the tast of that society. The patrons were not only attracted to the aphorisms on the pieces but possibly also found symbolic or mystical meanings in the decorations.
Freer Gallery of Art Collection
Exhibition History:
Arts of the Islamic World (May 3, 1998 to January 3, 2016)
Islamic Art (May 9, 1993 to June 3, 1997)
Near Eastern Ceramics (May 10, 1985 to September 3, 1985)
Near Eastern Ceramics (June 24, 1982 to September 23, 1982)
Near Eastern Ceramics (May 14, 1981 to May 10, 1985)
Art of the Near East (August 21, 1977 to December 14, 1979)
Ceramics from the World of Islam (January 16, 1974 to July 1, 1974)
Near Eastern Art (June 15, 1973 to May 7, 1975)
flower  Search this
Samanid period (819 - 1005)  Search this
kufic script  Search this
Afghanistan  Search this
Iran  Search this
earthenware  Search this
Arts of the Islamic World  Search this
Credit Line:
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Accession Number:
Restrictions & Rights:
Usage conditions apply
Related Online Resources:
Google Cultural Institute
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Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Collection
Data Source:
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery