“The water of Jericho is held to be the highest
best in all of Islam”
Al Maqdisi, ACE 985
Whitish earthenware jug formed of two mould-
halves; integral foot; thrown neck of cylindrical
with twin collars and slightly inverted mouth;
strap handle. Decoration consists of, from top-to-
bottom: twin pearl bands, stars, pearl, roundels,
stars, pseudo Kufic character, three bands (?) of
pearl, roundels with ibex, interlacing four-point
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
the Abbasids (ACE 750-1258) were at the helm of
an unwieldy empire that stretched from Spain to
borders of India, through Persia and the Middle
and along the coast of North Africa.
Great power transfers define the political vista
the empire is divided between semi-autonomous
states. Each operates within a changeable matrix
political affiliation, devotional expression and
cultural identity and we see great diversity in the
Yet, resisting the tendency for continual change,
piece attests the continuity of a longstanding
in Palestine that endures and remains unchanged
millennia. Whitish, unglazed wares see little
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 adorned in a
myriad of motifs that reflect and reiterate both
Islamic and pre-Islamic techniques.
The pearl motif, roundels and ibex derive from
Sassanian metalwork. Persian influence was
transmitted to Islam following the fall of the
Sassanian Empire and advent of Islam in ACE
The Islamic artisan mimicked rather than ignored
the traditions of the peoples they encountered.
The rosette, a motif that stems from the fourth
millennium BCE and features heavily in Byzantine,
Hellenistic and Persian art is likely to have been
appropriated from Late Antique and Byzantine
sources in the west.
A testament to both tradition and change, this
enunciates a widespread artistic vocabulary, as
as, greater changes taking place within the
in terms of the distribution of power and
in the arts.