Purchased with the assistance of The Art Fund and the Bryan Bequest
ca. 850 (made)
Whiteware dish with geometric decoration in lustre, Iraq (probably Basra),ca. 850.
Diameter: 34.3 cm
Islamic Middle East, room 42
White-glazed earthenware painted in yellow and brown lustre
MESOPOTAMIAN; mid 9th century [Used until 11/2003]
Whiteware Dish with Lustre
Iraq, probably Basra
An important innovation by Iraqi potters was the use of metallic lustre to decorate their whitewares. Like some contemporary glass, this large, flat dish was painted in two colours of lustre, yellow and brown. This combination is thought to represent the earliest phase of lustre production in ceramics.
Earthenware with lustre painted over the opaque glaze
Museum no. C.45-1952. Purchased with the assistance of the National Art Collections Fund [Jameel Gallery]
This large, flat dish has lustre decoration in yellow and brown. Experts think this two-colour combination, seen also in some contemporary glass, represents the earliest phase of lustre production in ceramics.
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.