Can you tell me more about this bowl and how it was made?
This bowl was wheel thrown meaning its shape was created while the clay was spinning on a potter’s wheel. The potter then covered the surface with a tin-based glaze to create a white ground for the writing, which was then painted on in cobalt. Finally, the vessel was fired. The white color was meant to mimic porcelain and the blue decoration was also influenced by the influx of Chinese ceramics to Iraq via the Silk Road. The inscription is like an ostentatious maker’s mark; it reads: “among the works of of Abu’l Taqi (Father of the Pious One).”
It looks very graceful
Indeed! The elaborate script is a popular form of decoration in the Islamic world and this style of script is called “Kufic.” The popularity of calligraphy stems from the exalted position of the Qur’an itself in Islam.
Do you know what type of clay and coloring was used for this?
The clay was likely locally sourced (in Iraq). It’s naturally brownish, but Abbasid potters in the 9th century had developed a glazing technique, seen here, to create a white surface with a tin-based glaze. On this surface, the blue, cobalt pigment was applied before firing.
Would you say this was for ordinary everyday use?
This bowl was a luxury item, but it was certainly meant to be used. It may have been reserved for special occasions or for a wealthy family.
Ok, thank you very much for answering my question.
I love the asymmetry of this Kufic inscription Bowl.
Yes! The artistic application of calligraphy has been and continues to be a major part of art in the Islamic world. The script identifies the name of the maker Abu-al-Taqi.
Tell me everything about this beautiful piece, mostly about the significance of having the signature.
This bowl was wheel thrown, meaning shaped on a potter's wheel. The surface was then covered with a tin-based glaze to create a white ground for the blue writing, which was executed in cobalt. Finally, the vessel was fired.
The white color was meant to mimic porcelain and the cobalt-based blue decoration originated in Persia.
The decorative signature speaks to the calligraphy tradition in the Islamic world, and, more specifically, was likely valued by collectors as a way to display that their pieces came from famous workshops.
Was it common for ceramic art like this to have the only decoration be the artists signature?
While the name of the artist wasn't as common, the role of writing as an art form was quite prominent in the Abbasid Caliphate.
The name of the craftsman incorporated into the design is thought by some to be a valuable addition for patrons who wanted to display their collections from famous workshops.
So this artist would have been well known? Collectors would see that name and know who he was?
Yes! they would have known the artist and his associated workshop, which if this is the case, was likely one of great quality and prestige.
So it’s like a brand.
Guess we’ve never been able to get away from branding haha!
Thanks for answering my questions!