Qajar Tile

Qajar Tile


Qajar Persia, second half of the 19th century
Fritware with underglaze decoration
32.5cm high, 37cm wide, 2.5cm deep
Stock no.: A5653

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Qajar Tile

 

A rectangular fritware moulded tile, painted with cobalt blue, turquoise, pink, yellow, and black underglaze. The tile depicts the meeting of two royals, accompanied by their attendants. Four buildings populate the background, representing the mosques and Armenian churches of Isfahan. The backdrop is densely packed with flowers, and a horizontal border at the top of the tile is decorated with roses, scrolling vines, and falcons. The garden setting alludes to paradise, the only place in the 19th century Iranian imagination in which men and women could freely come together.1 The prince attempts to hand the woman a cup of wine from the bottle he carries, but the woman, holding a parasol and flowers, has no hands free to take the cup.
This configuration of figures is a relatively common one in Qajar tiles. The scene may recall the meeting of Humay and Humayan, from the 14th century Khamsah of Khvaju Kirmani. The poem tells of the Persian prince Humay’s various quests to find Humayun, the daughter of the Emperor of China, with whom he has fallen madly in love.2 A very similar panel is on display in the Islamic Middle East Gallery at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London (accession no. 230-1887). 
1 Salgirli, Saygin. Inside/ Outside Islamic Art and Architecture: A Cartography of Boundaries in and of the Field. London: Bloomsbury, 2021. p. 113.
2 Nayel Barakat, Heba, and Khademi, Zahra. Qajar Ceramics: Bridging Tradition and Modernity. Kuala Lumpur: Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia, 2019. p. 116.

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