early 13th century AD
stonepaste ware, painted in chocolate lustre over an opaque white glaze
6.8 x 22.9cm
The shallow dish is conical and stands on a low foot. The four figures at its centre exemplify the 12th-century Seljuk-Persian aesthetic of the ‘moon-faced beauty’. The vigorous naskh inscription scratched through the lustre on the rim is Persian verse on the pangs of unrequited love and may or may not relate to the subject of the scene represented.
‘Oh you, whose will it is to hurt me for years and months,
You are free from me and glad at my anguish,
You vowed not to break your promise again,
It is I who have caused this breach.
Oh beloved, through you many have come to life,
From grief over you, many hearts and eyes have bled.
You are like and idol in hardness of heart, out of utter helplessness,
Your equal has become the dust of your feet.
May the Creator of the world protect [the owner of this vessel, wherever he may be].’
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.268, p.238. J.M. Rogers, The Arts of Islam. Masterpieces from the Khalili Collection, London 2010, cat.130, p.115.