Intact Kashan Lustre Bowl

Probably Kashan, Iran, early 13th century

Lustre-painted fritware

16.5cm diameter, 7.5cm high

Provenance: From the collection of Sir Eldred Hitchcock K.C.M.G (1887-1959), thence by direct family descent.

Stock No.: A5417


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Full Description

Intact Kashan Lustre Bowl

Painted in a shimmering brown lustre over a delicate frit body, this bowl is a brilliant example of a perfectly fired Kashan lusterware. This bowl type, with conical shaped walls and a tall foot, is frequently encountered in medieval Persian pottery. According to Oliver Watson (2004, p.359), the shape was developed concurrently with the Kashan style ceramics, at the early 13th century. The decorative scheme on the interior of the bowl is based on several concentric circles, forming different bands of motifs. The central circle is filled with intersecting thick straight lines, creating interconnecting triangles. The next concentric band is made up of palmette motifs commonly found in Kashan tiles and bowls (see, for example, LNS 211 C, The al-Sabah Collection, Kuwait; G-476, British Museum, London), with thin, white spirals filling the background of the brown lustre. The outermost concentric band at the rim is contains inscriptions in white on a lustre background. The exterior of the bowl is formed of one wide concentric band, containing circular motifs connected by vertical, straight lines. 

It has been suggested that the city of Kashan played an important role in the development of Persian pottery during the Seljuq period. Most notable is the style of ceramics named after the city, the “Kashan” style lustreware. It is characterised by the treatment of the background, where the craftsman scratched spirals and swirls onto the lustre paint, thus creating a lightened overall effect. In additional to utility vessels, Kashan was also an important production centre for wall tiles – recognised through the in interlocking star and cross-shapes, they contain arabesque or human and animal figures, and are surrounded by Qur’anic or Persian verses. 

The bowl was in the collection of Sir Eldred Hitchcock K.C.M.G (1887-1959), who had a notable collection of Islamic pottery. A selection from his collection was published by Arthur Lane in 1956, entitled Islamic Pottery: From the ninth to the fourteenth centires A.D. in the collection of Sir Eldred Hitchcock.

Inscription: Persian verses, mostly undeciphered.

Comparative material:

The British Museum, London (G-476)

The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (EAX.289.a)

The al-Sabah Collection, Kuwait (LNS 211 C)


Lane, Arthur. Early Islamic Pottery: Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Persia. Faber Monographs on Pottery and Porcelain. London: Faber & Faber, 1947.

Intact Kashan Lustre Bowl