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Bowl of Reflections

Arts of the Islamic World

On View: Arts of the Islamic World, 2nd floor
Beginning in the twelfth century, ceramics were produced in Iran with a frit body that provided a clean, light surface for painting. The most luxurious of these wares contained luster, added to the surface in a second firing and creating a metallic sheen that complemented mystical texts and images. While the image on this dish does not appear to be narrative, the presence of a bird, a familiar theme in Persian mystical literature, and human features asso- ciated with light (such as the moon-shaped faces) set the tone for the mystical verses appearing in two bands around the rim and interior. The text includes poetry by Rumi’s spiritual master, Shams al-Din Tabrizi (d. 1248), as well as verses believed to have been composed by the lesser-known Baba Afzal al-Din Kashani (d. 1213–14).
MEDIUM Ceramic; fritware, painted in luster and blue over an opaque white glaze
DATES early 13th century
DIMENSIONS 3 3/8 x 13in. (8.6 x 33cm) mount (m3): 7 1/4 × 1 3/4 × 11 1/4 in. (18.4 × 4.4 × 28.6 cm)  (show scale)
INSCRIPTIONS A partial reading of the inner inscription (in Persian) band is: "Oh you whose intent is to hurt me for months and years, who are free from me and cheerful at the anguish of my heart. You promised me not to break your promise anymore, it is I, dear, who have caused this break." (Bahrami 1949, 120). Translated by Wheeler Thackston on 12/30/09: Chun nist darin zamana-i 'ahdshikan yak dost ki 'aqibat nagardad dushman. Tanha'i kunun guzinam daman ba khweshtanam khwashast z' in pas man man. Since in these days of infidelity there is friend who does not eventually become an enemy, I now choose to wrap myself in solitude and henceforth amuse myself by myself. Ay zarif-i jahan salam 'alayk Inna da'i wa-sihhati bi-yadayk. Gar ba khidmat namirasam chi 'ajab> Inna r-ruha wa'l-fu ada ladayk. Daru-yi dard-i banda chist bigu. Qablatan law ruziqtu min shafatayk. Gar ba yak roz sayd-i khwad-ra guft Qum sahihan fa-qala dhaka 'alayk. Az tu ayam bar-i tu ham ba fighan Ah wa'l-mustaghathu minka ilayk. O most graceful one in the world, peace be with you: my misery and health are in your hands. If I cannot come to see you, why should that be strange? My spirit and heart are with you. Tell me what the remedy for my pain is. If only I could be given a kiss from your lips. If only one day you would say to your prey, "Arise in health," and then would say, "It is yours." I come into your embrace with a complaint of you. Alas, the one asked for help against you is dependent upon you. Ay ray-i tu sal u mah azurdan-i man farigh zi man u shad ba gham-khwardan-i man Gufti nakunam ba tu digar bad'ahdi in tez nakardan-i tu dar gardan-i man. O you whose intention it is to torment me for years and months, Unconcerned with me and happy over my sorrow. You said, "I won't break my promises to you any longer." This not sharpening of yours is also on my neck.
CREDIT LINE Gift of the Ernest Erickson Foundation, Inc.
PROVENANCE Prior to 1958, provenance not yet documented; by 1958, acquired by Ernest Erickson of New York; December 16, 1986, gift of Ernest Erickson Foundation, Inc. to the Brooklyn Museum.
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MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Arts of the Islamic World, 2nd floor
CAPTION Bowl of Reflections, early 13th century. Ceramic; fritware, painted in luster and blue over an opaque white glaze, 3 3/8 x 13in. (8.6 x 33cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Ernest Erickson Foundation, Inc., 86.227.16. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 86.227.16_top_PS2.jpg)
IMAGE top, 86.227.16_top_PS2.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2009
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