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Bowl with Kufic Inscription

Arts of the Islamic World

With its elegant Arabic inscription in kufic script, this bowl exemplifies the "black-and-white" wares unearthed at the sites of Nishapur and Samarqand in the 1930s and 1940s. The inscriptions on these types of vessels are the first extant examples of Arabic proverbs to appear in the Islamic world, and thus are central to Arabic literary history. This one reads, "Peace is that which is silent and the inner [thoughts] of the man with faults will only be revealed through his speech."

A central trading town since its establishment in the third century, Nishapur had become the chief cultural and political center in northeastern Iran during the ninth through twelfth centuries. During the Samanid period (819–1005), it was occupied by various cultural groups including the native Persian-speaking population as well as a recent influx of Arab elites and merchants, among whom might have been the owner of this bowl.
MEDIUM Ceramic; earthenware, painted in brown slip on a white slip ground under a transparent glaze
DATES 10th century
PERIOD Samanid Period
DIMENSIONS 4 1/2 x 13 7/8 in. (11.4 x 35.2 cm)
INSCRIPTIONS In Arabic (Kufic script), “إن ألسلامة ما صمت و إنما یبدي بطانة ذي العیوب کلام” [Peace is that which is silent and only his speech will reveal the [?] of the man with faults.]
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CREDIT LINE Gift of the Ernest Erickson Foundation, Inc.
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