Bowl with Arabic Inscription, "Blessing, Prosperity, Well-being, Happiness"

Object Name: Bowl

Date: late 10th–11th century

Geography: Made in present-day Uzbekistan, probably Samarqand. Excavated in Iran, Nishapur

Medium: Earthenware; white slip with polychrome slip decoration under transparent glaze

Dimensions: Max Diam. 14 in. (35.6 cm)
H. 4 1/4 (10.8 cm)

Classification: Ceramics

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1940

Accession Number: 40.170.15


Probably used for serving food, the decoration on this bowl would have been slowly revealed as the food was eaten. It is just one of many examples of ceramics with calligraphic decoration from Iran in this period of time. Sometimes the writing on these objects relates to their use in serving food; they say "Eat with appetite" or "The thankful eater is comparable to the one who fasts patiently". Another type has proverbs, some of which are witty and others of which provide advice. This particular bowl falls into a third category that simply expresses good wishes for the owner; here, "Blessing, prosperity, goodwill, peace, and happiness." Between the words are alternating red and black strokes, and at the base of the bowl is a large central motif of interlacing straps on a stippled ground. These two features identify the bowl as coming from Samarqand, where metal objects had similar decoration.