Footed dish with palmettes


  • Handbook text

    This footed dish belongs to a group of ceramics commonly known as ‘silhouette ware’. Like no. 6 [EA1956.91], it is decorated with a clay slip. Here, however, the slip is not used for painting. Instead the object has been dipped into a thick black slip, and when dry the slip has been carved away to leave the design in relief on a white ground. The subsequent turquoise glazing gives the dish its final black and turquoise, colour scheme.

    Once again we see the Islamic taste for balanced geometric forms around a central point. Here, as in no. 6 [EA1956.91], the design is cruciform, this time each arm a palmette within a heart-shaped cartouche, the cartouches themselves being formed by half-palmettes. The half-palmette is the basis of what we, in the West, call the ‘arabesque’. To form a simple arabesque, split a palmette down the centre lengthwise. Now attach the resulting half-palmettes to an s-shaped stem in such a way that the half-palmettes are in line with one another, but on the alternate sides of the stem. There are of course infinite variations on this theme, depending on the form of the original palmette and the space needing to be filled by the resulting arabesque.

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

Glossary of terms




Further reading

Fehérvári, Géza, Islamic Pottery: A Comprehensive Study Based on the Barlow Collection (London: Faber and Faber, 1973), no. 80 on p. 82, pl. 35 a

Allan, James W., Islamic Ceramics, Ashmolean-Christie's Handbooks (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 1991), no. 9 on p. 20, illus. p. 21

Reference URL

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