Fritware pottery, with underglaze painting, 32.4 cm diameter. Iran (probably Kashan), late 13th century.
The Mongol invasions of Iran in the early thirteenth century caused severe devastation and loss of life. From the middle of the century the new Mongol rulers re-established the economy, and trade and commerce flourished once again. This is especially evident in pottery production: new styles of painting are seen, with new motifs, new colouring and new vessel shapes. This bowl typifies the new style, with its somber colouring of white and black against a grey background. The phoenixes are a new motif copied from China – probably taken from imported silk textiles, which were much in demand in this period. The bowl is in remarkable condition for a medieval object that has undoubtedly spent most of the last centuries buried in some archaeological site. [Sir Alan Barlow Gift. EA1956.57]