Ewer, Earthenware; incised, unglazed


10th century
Excavated in Iran, Nishapur
Earthenware; incised, unglazed
H. 5 in. (12.7 cm)
Diam. 5 3/4 in. (14.6 cm)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1937
Accession Number:
Not on view
The Metropolitan Museum’s excavations at Nishapur in eastern Iran unearthed large amounts of earthenware pottery, showing the variety of decorative techniques and shapes employed at the site during its long period of inhabitation. Unglazed wares like this ewer made up a large portion of the finds, as is usually the case in archaeological excavations. Such vessels, costing less time and money to produce, served primarily utilitarian purposes and were a common feature in every household. At Nishapur, unglazed vessels were used above all for the transportation, storage and drinking of potable water, which was brought into town from the nearby foothills via underground channels called qanats.
The form of this piece closely reflects its function as a drinking vessel. Its wide, flaring mouth and porous body fabric allow water to stay cool by evaporation and its large, ear-like handles make lifting and tipping easy. Even the simple decoration near its lip – a wave-like line incised into the clay – readily brings the vessel’s intended liquid contents to mind.
1936, excavated at Sabz Pushan in Nishapur, Iran by the Metropolitan Museum of Art's expedition; 1937, acquired by the Museum in the division of finds

Wilkinson, Charles K. Nishapur: Pottery of the Early Islamic Period. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1973. no. 26, ch. 12, pp. 301, 339, ill. p. 339 (b/w).