Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Tile Panel

Object Name:
Tile panel
ca. 1430
Attributed to Syria, Damascus
Stonepaste; modeled, polychrome painted under transparent glaze
Tile A: H. 3 1/4 in. (8.3 cm) W. 9 in. (22.9 cm) D. 1 1/2 in. (3.8 cm) Tile B: H. 5 7/8 in. (14.9 cm) W. 5 1/4 in. (13.3 cm) D. 1 3/8 in. (3.5 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Ralph D. Minasian, 2011
Accession Number:
2011.156a, b
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 454
These tiles represent a ceramic type produced by the workshop of Ibn al-Ghaibi al‑Tawrizi, which operated out of Damascus in the early fifteenth century before relocating to Cairo. The panel is so similar in technique, composition, and style to one signed by Ghaibi and still extant in the funerary complex of Ghars al‑Din al‑Tawrizi (d. 1430) in Damascus that it probably came from that very building. The Museum holds more than a dozen sherds bearing the signature of this workshop, as well as a ceramic mosque lamp signed by the son of Ghaibi.
In the first half of the fifteenth century, a ceramics workshop headed by the master Ghaybi al-Tawrizi flourished in Mamluk Syria and Egypt, producing more than a dozen known tile panels or revetments for architectural contexts as well as portable objects.[1] As the nisba "al-Tawrizi" indicates, Ghaybi probably emigrated from the Iranian city of Tabriz to Syria.[2] This set of eighteen tiles, which originally belonged to a panel consisting of twenty-five, is so similar in technique, composition, and style to revetments signed by Ghaybi that it most probably can be attributed to his workshop. A report that the panel was acquired in Damascus in the early decades of the twentieth century suggests that it came from one of several buildings in that city decorated in the early fifteenth century with ceramic tiles.[3]
The best known of these Ghaybi revetments in Damascus survives in an incomplete state in the funerary complex of Ghars al- Din al-Tawrizi (d. 1430).[4] While the majority of revetments associated with the Ghaybi workshop are composed of hexagonal tiles, a few are made up of square or rectangular ones. At Ghars al-Din’s complex, in addition to the hexagonal and triangular tiles lining the walls of the mausoleum, there are two rectangular panels composed of square tiles located in the prayer hall. One of these compares quite closely with the present panel, which may well come from the same building—especially in light of the fact that only part of the revetment in the mosque building survives in situ.[5] Both panels are decorated in reserve, the designs standing out in white, outlined with thin black lines, against a cobalt ground. Both bear medallions filled with a distinctive basket-weave motif, which is also found on signed Ghaybi shards in the Museum’s collection.[6] On the other hand, a number of Damascus buildings were once decorated in this manner as well, including sections of the Umayyad Mosque riwaq, which appears to have been partially tiled in connection with an early fifteenth-century restoration.[7]
Ellen Kenney in [Ekhtiar, Soucek, Canby, and Haidar 2011]
1. A survey of these revetments is published in Meinecke, Michael. "Syrian Blue-and-White Tiles of the Ninth/ Fifteenth Century." Damaszener Mitteilungen 3 (1988), pp. 203–14, pls. 37–44. The Museum has more than a dozen shards bearing the signature of this workshop, as well as a ceramic mosque lamp signed "Ibn Ghaybi" (acc. no. 91.1.95).
2. Marilyn Jenkins-Madina has argued that the artisan settled in Syria before moving to Cairo (Jenkins 1984, pp. 112 and 113 n. 20), but Meinecke—while allowing for that possibility—believed Ghaybi executed the Ghars al-Din revetment in Damascus after already establishing himself in Cairo (Meinecke 1988, p. 211 n. 29).
3. According to a communication from the donor in the files of the Department of Islamic Art, Metropolitan Museum.
4. Interestingly, both the patron of the building and the master ceramist who decorated it appear to have come from Tabriz (Degeorge and Porter 2002, p. 188).
5. Carswell, John in Ettinghausen 1972, p. 117, pl. 8, left
6. Acc. nos. 08.184.53 and 08.256.113.
7. Meinecke 1988, pp. 210–11. (reference in footnote 1)
Hagop Kevorkian, New York (before d. 1962; gifted to Minassian); Ralph Minasian, New Hyde Park, NY (before 1962–2011; gifted to MMA)
Ettinghausen, Richard. "Almost One Hundred Years Ago." In Islamic Art in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, edited by Richard Ettinghausen. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1972.

Jenkins-Madina, Marilyn. "Mamluk Underglaze Painted Pottery: Foundations of Future Study." Muqarnas vol. 2 (1984). pp. 112, 113 n. 20.

Degeorge, Gerard, and Yves Porter. The Art of the Islamic Tile. Paris, 2002. p. 188.

Ekhtiar, Maryam, Sheila R. Canby, Navina Haidar, and Priscilla P. Soucek, ed. Masterpieces from the Department of Islamic Art in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1st ed. ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011. no. 98, pp. 150-151, ill. p. 150 (color).

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