Bowl with Pseudo-inscription, Stonepaste; polychrome painted under a transparent glaze

Bowl with Pseudo-inscription

Object Name:
13th century
Made in Syria
Stonepaste; polychrome painted under a transparent glaze
H. 2 13/16 in. (7.1 cm)
Diam. 10 1/4 in. (26 cm)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1908
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 454
Typically formatted concentrically, the decoration of Syrian black‑and‑blue underglaze‑painted pieces often features pseudo‑inscriptions. Here, the repeated letters, alif‑lam, around a circular band against a vegetal scroll, are not merely a decorative device or reflection of a potter’s illiteracy. This letter combination held religious significance and appears to have been endowed with magical or talismanic properties.
Marking: -Sticker on foot: Rakka Plaque/XIII Century
-Sticker on underside of rim: 2215/MHO
[ Dikran G. KelekianNew York, until 1908; sold to MMA]
Aanavi, Don. "Devotional Writing: "Pseudoinscriptions" in Islamic Art." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin vol. 26, no. 9 (May 1968). p. 356, ill. fig. 6 (b/w).

Jenkins-Madina, Marilyn. "Ceramics of Ayyubid Syria." In Raqqa Revisited. New York; New Haven: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2006. pp. 159, 166-8, 222, ill. MMA44 (color), pp. 169, 173.