• Art of the Islamic and Indian  auction at Christies

    Sale 7843

    Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds

    13 April 2010, London, King Street

  • Lot 32

    A NISHAPUR MOULDED MONOCHROME COBALT-BLUE GLAZED POTTERY EWER

    EASTERN IRAN, 12TH CENTURY

    Price Realised  

    A NISHAPUR MOULDED MONOCHROME COBALT-BLUE GLAZED POTTERY EWER
    EASTERN IRAN, 12TH CENTURY
    Rising from vertical splayed foot through slightly widening faceted cylindrical body with flat shoulder to tubular neck and rising trough spout, with simple handle linking neck and body with knop thumbpiece, the top of the spout moulded with interlacing arabesque, the neck with three moulded vertical bands of concentric circles, the shoulder moulded with an intricate design of interlacing strapwork forming a six-pointed star around the neck, the strapwork with scrolling vine, the interstices with finely rendered animals, both real and imaginary, including an elephant with its rider, a unicorn, a sphynx, a winged lion and birds, the neck with three moulded vertical bands of concentric circles, handle repaired otherwise intact, in fitted box
    11 7/8in. (30.2cm.) high


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    The form of this cobalt-blue glazed pottery ewer is taken from a metalwork form of which the late 12th century Afghan ewer now in the British Museum is the archetype (Rachel Ward, Islamic Metalwork, London, 1993, ill). Both follow the same proportions although the shoulder of the present ewer is more rounded than that of metalwork examples. It is likely that the shape was necessitated by the moulding technique. A number of moulds from Afghanistan datable to the 12th century were used to produce bowls of slightly squat profile, as is the profile of the present ewer's shoulder, and to stamp decoration of lively chasing animals or geometric lattices (Oliver Watson, Ceramics of the Islamic Lands, London, 2004, p.108/142-3).

    The iconography of this ewer, with real animals depicted alongside mythical beasts, is remarkable. Although rare, depictions of elephants are not unusual and are usually associated with an attacking unicorn as described in the 293th night of the "Thousand and One Nights". The decoration visible here illustrates perfectly the contemporary taste for the 'aja'ib (the wonders), a literary style which began to flourish during the 12th century with works such as that by the famous cosmographer Muhammad Tusi Salmani (f. circa 1160) and later Qazwini (d. 1283) (L'©Etrange et le merveilleux en terres d'Islam, exhibition catalogue, Paris, 2001, p.35).

    Special Notice

    VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 17.5% on the buyer's premium.


    Provenance

    Japanesse private collection, since 1980s