A great tradition of interior and exterior tiling developed in Iran from the late 12th century, which transformed the appearance of architecture. Tiles such as this were used to decorate the interior of buildings, probably of a religious nature, and would have provided a grand Qur'anic inscription sweeping along the walls.
This tile bears a few words from sura (chapter) 3 of the Qur’an (verse 194). It was moulded and covered in a deep blue glaze, which caused this type of ceramics to be referred to as lajvardina (from lajvard, the Persian word for lapis lazuli). The gold leaf and coloured enamels were applied over the glaze and fixed with a second firing. The frieze of lotus flowers crowning the inscription shows the introduction of Chinese motifs resulting from the increased contacts between the Far and Middle East during the Mongol period (1256-1353).
Allan, James W., Medieval Middle Eastern Pottery (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 1971), p. 37, illus. p. 38 pl. 33
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. 90 on p. 34, illus. p. 34
Ceramic material composed of ground quartz and small quantities of clay and finely ground frit (frit is obtained by pouring molten glass into water).
Vitreous coating applied to the surface of a ceramic to make it impermeable or for decorative effect.
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