Whiteware bowl with a deer painted in lustre, Iraq (probably Basra), 10th century.
Diameter: 9.5 cm, Height: 3.2 cm
Islamic Middle East, room 42
White-glazed earthenware painted in blue and lustre.
MESOPOTAMIAN; 9th or 10th century. [Old gallery label]
Whiteware Bowls with Lustre
Iraq, probably Basra
The two bowls represent a later phase in Iraqi lustre production. Only one metallic pigment was used, but it has a more reflective surface. The decoration was inspired by the silverware of the period, which was sometimes decorated with humans and animals. Even the dotted backgrounds reproduce silver texturing.
Earthenware with lustre painted over and (8) cobalt into the opaque glaze
Museum nos. C.350-1930; C.62-1981 [Jameel Gallery]
This bowl represents an early development in Iraqi lustre ceramics. In the initial phase of lustre production, potters used two metallic pigments. Here the potter has used only one, but now it has a more reflective surface. The decoration was inspired by the silverware of the period, which was sometimes decorated with humans and animals. Even the dotted background reproduces the texture of silver.
Potters in Iraq invented the technique of lustre decoration on ceramics in the 9th century. First they made a glazed vessel or tile with little or no decoration in the normal way. When the piece had cooled, a design was painted over the glaze in metallic compounds. The pot or tile was then fired again, this time with a restricted supply of oxygen. In these conditions, the metallic compounds broke down, and a thin deposit of copper or silver was left on the surface of the glaze. When polished, this surface layer reflected the light.