Chinese ceramics and porcelain were eagerly collected by Islamic rulers in Egypt, Turkey and Iran from the early 15th century onwards. Through substantial purchases and rich diplomatic gifts, the collections of the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul and the Ardabil Shrine in Iran are not surprisingly amongst the most representative and comprehensive outside of China.
Blue-and-white Chinese porcelain, especially the refined wares of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), have had a lasting impact on Islamic ceramic production. They not only influenced shapes and glazing techniques, but also enriched the decorative repertoire. Floral motifs like the lotus and the peony, fantastic creatures such as dragons and phoenixes, and fluttering cloud-bands became part of the Islamic artistic vocabulary at this time.
This impressively large plate shows how Eastern-inspired motifs could be used in combination with more indigenous patterns to produce highly inventive compositions. Here a vignette featuring two pheasants amidst peonies and lush vegetation acts as the centrepiece of a dynamic composition with three interlacing eight-pointed stars. Along with the balanced juxtaposition of coloured and plain areas, additional texture is provided by a moulded scale-like pattern that fills the white areas of the plate.
Allan, James W., Islamic Ceramics, Ashmolean-Christie's Handbooks (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 1991), no. 37 on p. 60, illus. p. 61
Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 18 July-13 September 1981, and London: Sotheby Parke Bernet, 1981, Eastern Ceramics and Other Works of Art from the Collection of Gerald Reitlinger: Catalogue of the Memorial Exhibition, Deborah Willis, ed. (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum and London: Sotheby Parke Bernet, 1981), no. 349 on p. 122, illus. p. 122 & pl. VI (colour)
Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 24 May 2006-23 December 2008, Treasures: Antiquities, Eastern Art, Coins, and Casts: Exhibition Guide, Rune Frederiksen, ed. (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 2006), no. 179 on p. 64, illus. p. 64
fritware, porcelain, underglaze painting
Ceramic material composed of ground quartz and small quantities of clay and finely ground frit (frit is obtained by pouring molten glass into water).
Ceramic material composed of kaolin, quartz, and feldspar which is fired to a temperature of c.1350-1400⁰c. The resulting ceramic is vitreous, translucent, and white in colour.
Painting applied to ceramic material before a transparent, or monochrome or coloured glaze for Islamic objects, is applied. The technique was initially developed in China.
Objects are sometimes moved to a different location. Our object location data is usually updated on a monthly basis. Contact the Jameel Study Centre if you are planning to visit the museum to see a particular object on display, or would like to arrange an appointment to see an object in our reserve collections.