early or mid 13th century AD
stonepaste ware, painted in olive-brown lustre over an opaque white glaze
8.4 x 18cm
The bowl is in exceptionally fine condition. Inside, at the centre, is an unusual scene of a leopard chasing a long-horned goat or gazelle through a stylized landscape with a fish-pond. This is followed by a band with a Persian quatrain relating to the pangs of love, written upside down in naskh script,
‘I talk of your tale every night with my heart,
I seek your scent from every morning breeze,
I wash my face with the blood of my heart for the purpose
that my face may not be yellow the next day.
Blessing to its owner.’
At the rim is a benedictory Kufic inscription, in reserve, ‘Perpetual glory and prosperity, perpetual glory, and triumphant victory, and durable glory, and wealth, and happiness, and well-being, and wealth, and happiness’.
Outside are more Persian verses, also in reserve, above a frieze of stylized palmette chains,
‘Since the world is not permanent for any one,
Surely it is best that goodness is left to be remembered,
Since the world is an inn, and we …
Perhaps you would not suffer a lot in it.
You said that in it [the world] …
… will pass in sorrow …’
The style of painting and the motifs are close to tiles from the Imamzada Yahya at Varamin dated 660–3 AH (1261–5 AD), and to a series of star and cross-tiles dated to the late 1260s.
E.J. Grube et al, Cobalt and Lustre. The First Centuries of Islamic Pottery, The Nasser D Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, volume IX, London 1994, cat.273, p.241. J.M. Rogers, The Arts of Islam. Masterpieces from the Khalili Collection, London 2010, cat.131, p.115.