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Tile from an Inscriptional Frieze

Object Name:
Tile from a frieze
dated A.H. 707/A.D. 1308
Iran, Natanz
Stonepaste; underglaze painted in blue, luster-painted on opaque white ground, modeled
H. 15 in. (38.1 cm) W. 15 in. (38.1 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Emile Rey, 1912
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 455
This tile is one in a series which probably once formed a glittering inscriptional frieze encircling the walls of a 14th-century tomb pavilion located in Natanz, Iran. The cobalt-blue inscription is set against a field of scrolling vines, wherein tiny birds perch amongst leafy foliage, some alighting upon the letters themselves. The frieze likely sat close to eye level, permitting the intricacies of the tile's drawing to be admired, while crowning a dado of equally opulent star- and cross-shaped tiles.
Inscription: Inscription in Arabic in thuluth script:

شوا[ ل سنة سبع وسبعمایة[

[Shawwa]l of the year A.H. 707 [A.D. March 24–April 22, 1308]

Marking: Arabic: [In the month Shawwal]l, A.H. 707
Shrine of Nur al-Din 'Abd al-Samad at Natanz, Iran (from 1308)

Emile Rey, New York (until 1912; gifted to MMA)
Blair, Sheila S. "The Ilkhanid shrine complex at Natanz." PhD diss., Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University, 1986. pp. 5-7, 21, 50, 64, ill. pl. 47.

Welch, Stuart Cary. The Islamic World. vol. 11. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987. p. 75, ill. fig. 55 (color).

Carboni, Stefano, and Tomoko Masuya. Persian Tiles. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1993. no. 20, p. 25, ill. (b/w).

Rossabi, Morris, Charles Melville, James C.Y. Watt, Tomoko Masuya, Sheila S. Blair, Robert Hillenbrand, Linda Komaroff, Stefano Carboni, Sarah Bertelan, and John Hirx. The Legacy of Genghis Khan: Courtly Art and Culture in Western Asia, 1256–1353, edited by Stefano Carboni, and Linda Komaroff. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002. no. 114, pp. 127, 268, ill. fig. 149 (color).

Ekhtiar, Maryam, Sheila R. Canby, Navina Haidar, and Priscilla P. Soucek, ed. Masterpieces from the Department of Islamic Art in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1st ed. ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011. no. 77, p. 120, ill. p. 120 (color).

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