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HOME : Islamic Art : AS Collection 4 : Nishapur Slip Painted Bowl
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Nishapur Slip Painted Bowl - AMD.48
Origin: Central Asia
Circa: 900 AD to 1000 AD
Dimensions: 3.9" (9.9cm) high x 8.6" (21.8cm) wide
Collection: Islamic Art
Style: Nishapur Ware
Medium: Buff Earthenware
Condition: Very Fine

Additional Information: AS

Location: UAE
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The first indigenous Muslim dynasty to rule Iran following the Arab conquest, the Samanid Dynasty was founded in 819 A.D. by Saman- Khuda, a Persian vassal of the Abbasid Empire. However, not until the reign of Saman-Khuda’s great-grandson, Ismail I (892-907 A.D.), did Samanid power become extensive, eventually spreading outside of Iran and into Central Asia. The coins of the Samanids were used throughout North Asia, revealing their enormous influence on the region. Today, the Samanid Dynasty is renown as a time of cultural flourishing, especially in regards to the arts of poetry and pottery. The capital of Bukhara was also one of the cultural centers of the empire, along with the cities of Samarkand and Nishapur. Perhaps their most important influence on Islamic art was the Samanid innovation of slip painting that allowed for more refined, controlled glazed decorations on terracotta vessels and tiles. The Samanid Dynasty was a period of nationalism, where the Persian people regained power from the hands of foreign invaders. While Samanid power gradually waned throughout the 10th century in response to the rise of Turkic power in Central Asia and Afghanistan, during their rule the foundations of a native Iranian Islamic culture were firmly established.

This exquisite and intriguing bowl falls under the type also known as “Samanid Pottery” since the genre was manufactured predominantly during the Samanid period (204/819 – 395/1005) and within the borders of the Samanid realm, mainly in Nishapur and Samarkand. The nomenclature of “Slip Painted” refers to the ground slip on which the painted decoration was applied, and to the fact that the pigments used to illustrate the decorative elements also had an added slip. The advantage was that the colors were not apt to run when fired under the clear lead glaze. The vessels were invariably made of red or buff earthenware as is this magnificent example.

The characteristics of the most unusual drawing and the delicacy of the hand which brought this zoomorphic creature to life is comparable to the finest calligraphic splendor this genre of pottery (or any other for that matter) has to offer. Even more unusual is the so called “swastika” drawn beneath the creature’s head, as if it is about to bend down and swallow it.

The earliest consistent use of swastika motifs in archaeological records date from the Neolithic period. In antiquity, the swastika was used extensively by the Indo-Iranians, Hittites, Celts and Greeks where it was found on relics unearthed at the site of Troy.

The symbol was found on a number of Elamite shards in the Khuzestan province of Iran evidencing that for thousands of years, it has been used in ancient Iranian culture, and one necklace with swastika motifs at the National Museum of Iran was excavated from Kaluraz, Guilan, and dates back to the 1st millennium BC. Its significance was as a symbol of the revolving sun (Garduneh-e Khorshid), Mithra's Wheel (Garduneh-e Mehr), fire, infinity, or continuing recreation. The oldest representation of this motif was dated back to 5000 BC. The 8th Century AD Masjide Jomeh mosque in Isfahan, Iran and the Taynal Mosque in Tripoli, Lebanon built in 1336 both have swastika motifs. The symbol occurs sometimes as a geometrical motif and sometimes as a religious symbol. - (AMD.48)


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