Fragment of a Two-Colored Luster-Painted Bowl

Not on view

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 attest to the continued occupation of Ctesiphon’s urban area in the early Islamic period. Luster, here in ruby-red and in greenish-gold, was an innovative technology developed by Iraqi-based craftsmen in the 9th century, possibly adapting a technique employed on glass. The opacified white glaze, also an innovation developed in this period, was obtained with different techniques, such as the addition of tin oxide, through undissolved quartz, gas bubbles, or crystallization processes that occurred during firing.

Fragment of a Two-Colored Luster-Painted Bowl, Earthenware; luster-painted on opaque white glaze

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