Earthenware bowl with a white glaze, Iraq (probably Basra), 700-900.
Diameter: 24 cm, Height: 6.6 cm
Islamic Middle East, room 42
Plain Whiteware Bowls
Northern China, probably Gongxian, and Iraq, probably Basra
These two bowls illustrate the first stage in Islamic luxury ceramics. The smaller Chinese bowl is the type of whiteware imported into Iraq from about 750. The larger Iraqi bowl shows how this whiteware was imitated. It has the same shape, and originally had the same bright whiteness, now dulled by long burial.
Stoneware with transparent glaze and earthenware with opaque glaze
Museum nos. C.22-1950; C.178-1984 [Jameel Gallery]
Earthenware with an opaque white glaze
IRAQ; about 800 to 900 AD
This bowl copies in every detail a Chinese white porcelain bowl of the earliest type imported into the Middle East. It uses an opaque white glaze - possibly a thin-glaze - to imitate the white material of the original. [Old G133 - 1990]
This bowl illustrates the first stage in the development of Islamic luxury ceramics. In the early 9th century Iraqi potters began to imitate elegant white bowls imported from China. They used the local yellow clay, which they masked with an opaque white glaze. The shape of this bowl imitates that of a type of Chinese imported stoneware. It originally had the same bright whiteness, now dulled by long burial.
Glazed ceramics were not widely used in the pre-Islamic Middle East, but in the 8th and 9th centuries they began to assume the important role they have today. The high-fired stoneware ceramics from China, first brought to Iraq by sea in the 8th century, were one stimulus for this change.