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HOME : Islamic Art : AS Collection Consignment : Islamic Terracotta Ewer with Molded Decorations
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Islamic Terracotta Ewer with Molded Decorations - LO.1404
Origin: Jericho, Israel
Circa: 800 AD to 1200 AD
Dimensions: 11.4" (29.0cm) high x 6.3" (16.0cm) wide
Collection: Islamic Art
Medium: Terracotta

Additional Information: A/jb.1206 cancelled AS

Location: Great Britain
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“The water of Jericho is held to be the highest and best in all of Islam” Al Maqdisi, ACE 985 Unglazed whitish earthenware ewer formed of two wheel-made halves, integral foot, thrown neck and tapering handle; tall neck with series of transverse ribs and pinched spout, styled in the form of a bird; banded decoration to body consisting of, from top- to-bottom: cut ornamentation to neck, lobed arrowheads, procession of birds against concentric circle ground, palmettes, combed wavy-line and two bands of rosettes; groundline undecorated. This piece heralds from the banks of the Jordan River in Palestine. At the time this piece was in use, proffering a cool sip of water amid the desert heat and shady palms of Jericho, the Abbasid dynasty (ACE 750-1258) was at the helm of an unwieldy empire that stretched from Spain to the borders of India, through Persia and the Middle East and along the coast of North Africa. Great power transfers define the political vista and the empire is divided between several semi- autonomous states. Each operates within a changeable matrix of political affiliation, devotional expression and cultural identity and we see great diversity in the arts. Yet, resisting the tendency for continual change, this piece is a delightful testament to the continuity of a longstanding praxis in Palestine that endures and remains unchanged for millennia. Whitish, unglazed wares see little change in material, form and function over centuries. Simple technology for simple function. Most likely used to cool or even flavour water. We often find these vessels richly decorated and the standard of finish in this case is exceptional. The design is well laid out and forms are neat; an excellent level of detail retained. Time has been spent rubbing down the seam between the two halves and the join disguised by combing. The decoration reflects and reiterates not only contemporary styles – comparative pieces of the same period have been found in both Iran and Afghanistan - but also intimates pre-Islamic wares. The shape of the vessel perpetrates a tradition for so-named "beak-spouted" wares that first appears in late 2nd-early 1st millennium BC. Extant examples from Iran and Afghanistan reveal this style was being intimated in Iran around ACE 700 – 999. The capital was moved from Syria to Iraq in ACE 750 and henceforth the artistic vocabulary borrows heavily from the Persian tradition, which was transmitted to Islam by Sassanian sources following the fall of their empire in ACE 651. The animal imagery and concentric circle and pearl motif all stem from Sassanian art. Interestingly, we have a streak of glaze. This does not mean that the vessel was originally glazed, rather that it was fired within close proximity of glazed wares demonstrating the adoption of new technologies at traditional potteries. Thus, amid great diversity runs a vein of unity in art; a harmonised vocabulary between the ancient artisans that reflects and reiterates a predilection for pre-Islamic forms, as well as, the spread of new technologies throughout the empire. cf. Ceramics of the Islamic World in the Tareq Rajab Museum, I.B.Tauris (London, 2000). pp.189-202. - (LO.1404)


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