Islamic Art :
AS Collection Consignment : Islamic Terracotta Ewer with Molded Decorations
Islamic Terracotta Ewer with Molded Decorations - LO.1404
Origin: Jericho, Israel
11.4" (29.0cm) high
x 6.3" (16.0cm) wide
Collection: Islamic Art
Additional Information: A/jb.1206 cancelled AS
Location: Great Britain
“The water of Jericho is held to be the highest
best in all of Islam”
Al Maqdisi, ACE 985
Unglazed whitish earthenware ewer formed of
wheel-made halves, integral foot, thrown neck
tapering handle; tall neck with series of
ribs and pinched spout, styled in the form of a
banded decoration to body consisting of, from
to-bottom: cut ornamentation to neck, lobed
arrowheads, procession of birds against
circle ground, palmettes, combed wavy-line and
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
sip of water amid the desert heat and shady
of Jericho, the Abbasid dynasty (ACE 750-1258)
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
Great power transfers define the political vista
the empire is divided between several semi-
autonomous states. Each operates within a
changeable matrix of political affiliation,
expression and cultural identity and we see great
diversity in the arts.
Yet, resisting the tendency for continual change,
piece is a delightful testament to the continuity of
longstanding praxis in Palestine that endures and
remains unchanged for millennia. Whitish,
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
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
The shape of the vessel perpetrates a tradition for
so-named "beak-spouted" wares that first
in late 2nd-early 1st millennium BC. Extant
examples from Iran and Afghanistan reveal this
was being intimated in Iran around ACE 700 –
The capital was moved from Syria to Iraq in ACE
and henceforth the artistic vocabulary borrows
heavily from the Persian tradition, which was
transmitted to Islam by Sassanian sources
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
a harmonised vocabulary between the ancient
artisans that reflects and reiterates a predilection
pre-Islamic forms, as well as, the spread of new
technologies throughout the empire.
cf. Ceramics of the Islamic World in the Tareq
Museum, I.B.Tauris (London, 2000). pp.189-202.