Dome of the Rock Tile
This underglaze-painted tile, beautifully decorated in turquoise, cobalt blue, and black and white, would have formed part of a row of tiles with connecting designs on the Dome of the Rock in Palestine. The slight curve of the tile indicates it would have decorated an archway or window. The full design, as illustrated by architectural examples in situ in Millner (see p. 118, fig. 4.1; p. 121, fig. 4.3), consists of alternating cartouches and four-petalled rosettes, joined by a small knot flanked by palmettes. The cartouches bear scrolling flowers, as shown on this tile, while the rosettes are filled with a symmetrical floral pattern.
The Dome of the Rock was originally built in 691 CE under the order of Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan. This Islamic shrine has been modified several times over the centuries, in particular when the Ottoman Sultan Suleyman I replaced the exterior tiles in the 16th century. A distinct characteristic of the Dome of the Rock tiles are the holes on the sides to fit metal rods to compensate for insufficient mortar and grout, which are also found on our tile.
Literature: Millner, A. Damascus Tiles: Mamluk and Ottoman Architectural Ceramics from Syria, Prestel, Munich, London, New York, 2015.
Porter, V. Islamic Tiles, The Trustees of The British Museum, London, 1995.