Stonepaste; underglaze painted in blue, luster-painted on transparent glaze
H. 9 1/8 in. (23.2 cm)
W. 5 3/4in. (14.6cm)
Edward C. Moore Collection, Bequest of Edward C. Moore, 1891
On view at Not on view
This lantern presents a classic example of Raqqa lusterware in its stonepaste body composition, overglaze luster‑painting technique, and decorative motifs, which closely resemble those on the other lusterware objects in the collection. Its form, however, is unusual. Modeled from slabs and rolls, it resembles a square domed building, articulated at each corner by a column and finial.
Recent studies point to the production of glazed ceramics in twelfth- and thirteenth-century Syria at multiple locations and indicate that several types were produced at each of the various centers. One type from this period, a group of underglaze- and luster-painted stonepaste ware, is associated mainly with Raqqa, a site on the middle Euphrates. The Ayyubid prince al-Malik al-Ashraf Musa lived in this city from 1201 to 1229, during which time ceramic production is thought to have thrived there; it tapered off toward the middle of the thirteenth century and ended with the Mongol invasion in 1258. This ware belongs to a larger class of ceramics referred to as Raqqa ware, which shares the same body fabric and glaze composition.
While this lantern represents a classic example of Raqqa lusterware in its stonepaste composition, overglaze luster-painting technique, and decorative motifs, its form is unusual. Modeled from slabs and rolls, its shape resembles a square-domed building, articulated at each corner by a column and finial. On two opposing sides, the walls of this "building" are pierced with eight-petaled rose windows. The other two sides are open and surmounted by lobed arches. The dome is also pierced, with small openings on its sides.
The decoration of the lantern highlights its architectonic elements. A sketchy vegetal scroll with dots, executed in brown luster against a white ground, meanders across the dome and the walls. The columns are painted entirely in luster, which is now rather abraded. Concentric outlines of blue and luster paint accentuate the piercings of the dome as well as the four rectangular wall panels and their openings. Surmounting the arches is interlace ornament that mimics a decorative device frequently found in Syrian buildings of the Ayyubid and Mamluk periods.
Two similar ceramic lanterns are known, both roughly contemporaneous examples of the same technique attributed to Raqqa: one, slightly larger, has corner columns and finials but is open on all four sides; the other, like the Museum’s lantern, has alternating rose windows and openings.
Ellen Kenney (author) in [Ekhtiar, Soucek, Canby, and Haidar 2011]
M. Albert Goupil, Paris(until d. 1884; sale Hôtel Drouot,Paris, April 23–27, 1888); Edward C. Moore (American, New York 1827–1891 New York), New York (probably 1888–d. 1891; bequeathed to MMA)
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Ekhtiar, Maryam. "Shimmering Surfaces: Lustre Ceramics of the Islamic World." Arts of Asia vol. 42 (2012). p. 94, ill. fig. 9 (color).