Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Bowl with Alif-lam Motif

Object Name:
12th century
Probably from Syria, Raqqa
Stonepaste; polychrome painted under transparent glaze.
H. 3 in. (7.6 cm) Diam. 10 3/8 (26.4 cm)
Credit Line:
Fletcher Fund, 1934
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 454
Gertrude Bell, the famous archaeologists and writer, photographed this bowl in 1909 at the house of a diplomat and antiquity dealer in Haleb, among others said to come from Raqqa. While many of these objects were actually found in Raqqa, the high demand of "Raqqa ware" on the market in the early 20th century certainly had as a consequence that dealers would always claim such provenance for their objects. Archaeological research has now ascertained that similar objects, whose distribution included Anatolia, Syria, Egypt and even in Europe, were produced in several workshops in Syria and Egypt.
The main design painted on this bowl recalls an epigraphic motif in which the vertical shafts of the letters lam and alif are richly interlaced among them.
Marking: Sticker on base: H K Monif/843/645 Madison Av/New York
Thomas B. Clarke, New York (until 1925; his sale, American Art Galleries,, New York, January 7–10, 1925, lot 633; [ Hassan Khan Monif, New York, until 1934; sold to MMA]
Museum für Islamische Kunst, Pergamonmuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. "The Arts of Islam. Masterpieces from the M.M.A.," June 15, 1981–August 8, 1981, no. 49.

"[catalogue of an exhibition held at the] Hayward Gallery, London, 19 October –10 December 1972." In Islamic Carpets from the Joseph V. McMullan Collection. London: Arts Council of Great Britain, 1972. no. 3, p. 33, ill. pl. 20 (color).

"Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art New York." In The Arts of Islam. Berlin, 1981. no. 49, pp. 132-133, ill. p. 133 (b/w).

Ettinghausen, Richard, Oleg Grabar, and Marilyn Jenkins-Madina. Islamic Art and Architecture 650–1250. 2nd ed. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2001. p. 251, ill. fig. 413 (color).

Orient de Saladin : L'Art des Ayyoubides. Paris: Gallimard, 2001. no. 147, p. 161, ill. (color).

Jenkins-Madina, Marilyn. "Ceramics of Ayyubid Syria." In Raqqa Revisited. New York; New Haven: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2006. pp. 29, 30,145, 222, ill. MMA30 (color), pp. 166-8, 169-70, 173.

Canby, Sheila R., Deniz Beyazit, and Martina Rugiadi. "The Great Age of the Seljuqs." In Court and Cosmos. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2016. p. 186, ill. fig. 74.

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