Fragment of a Luster-Painted Handle with Thumb Rest

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This ceramic fragment was excavated in Ctesiphon, the Sasanian metropolis and administrative capital conquered by Arab Muslim armies in 637. The city was known in Arabic as al-Mada’in, or "the cities", for its extended area. Arab historians indulge in describing al-Mada’in/Ctesiphon’s grand monuments, which obsessed Muslim rulers and may have acquired a symbolic meaning related to its imperial past. This was the case of the Taq-i Kisra, an impressively-sized ivan (a vaulted hall with one side open) partially dismantled to reuse its bricks in caliphal buildings in the new capital Baghdad.
Finds like this fragment, which was excavated at a site named Selman Pak V, attest to the continued occupation of Ctesiphon’s urban area in the early Islamic period. The handle would have originally belonged to a ewer or a jug, glazed with an opacified white glaze, and luster-painted in a greenish-gold color. Thumb rests, sometimes in the shape of an animal or a turban, are commonly found on unglazed ceramics of the 9th to 11th centuries.

Fragment of a Luster-Painted Handle with Thumb Rest, Earthenware; molded, glazed, and luster-painted

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