Bowl with radial design and drop-shaped cartouches


  • Handbook text

    The underglaze painting tradition, once developed, was to have continuing use in Islamic ceramics, and changes in style and colour scheme mark successive phases. Under the Il-Khanid (Mongol) rulers of Iran in the late thirteenth century the style of vegetal design becomes looser and more fluid, the variable but distinct background pattern of the pre-Mongol period become loose groupings of dots, and the black becomes much softer and greener in colour. Occasional blobs of turquoise indicate an interest in expanding the underglaze palette. Figural decoration declines, and the commonest designs are now geometric, with a variety of arabesque patterns used as fillers. Both these bowls have radial designs. No. 17 [EA1978.1683] has a ‘Maltese’ cross which is emphasised visually by its colour, by its wide, white border, and by the wide, white surround to the pear-shaped cartouches in each of its arms. In no.18 [EA1978.1595] the centre has a greater emphasis, and the balance of the now eight radiating panels is more subtle. The primary cross-shape is emphasised by its pointed arms, and by the use of the same arabesque design as a filler for each of them. The four secondary arms have square ends and the designs used as fillers alternate, two and two. The result is that although the bowl is decorated with an eight-point radial design, the eye reads it as a cross.

    In: Allan, James W., Islamic Ceramics, Ashmolean-Christie's Handbooks (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 1991)

Glossary of terms


underglaze painting

Further reading

Allan, James W., Islamic Ceramics, Ashmolean-Christie's Handbooks (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 1991), no. 17 on p. 32, illus. p. 32

Reference URL

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