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Bowl with Peacock Motif

Arts of the Islamic World

On View: Lobby annex, 1st floor
This bowl represents the fine ceramic production of the Syrian center of Raqqa, which flourished during the Ayyubid dynasty (1171–1260). The bowl has a flat rim with abstract decoration that is vaguely vegetal in inspiration, while the interior contains a large, stylized representation of a peacock amid scrolling, leafy vines. Although dark copper-colored luster decoration and blue highlights are typical of Raqqa ceramics, this bowl is remarkable for the ingenuity of its color combinations and the intensity of its palette, especially the pleasing pale turquoise tint of its transparent, colorless overglaze.

During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, European and American interest in the Middle East was aroused in large part by translations of Arabic literary texts such as the Thousand and One Nights. The lavish descriptions of the court of the famed cAbbasid caliph Harun al-Rashid (reigned 786–809) led to a Romanticized view of Islamic culture, and ceramics unearthed at Raqqa soon became erroneously associated with Harun, who had built a palace in that city. The false link between Harun and Raqqa drove an inflated market demand for "Raqqa-ware" that lasted until the 1930s. It is now known that the majority of the ceramics from Raqqa were produced in the late twelfth or early thirteenth century, when the city underwent a cultural renaissance after a decline beginning in the tenth century.
MEDIUM Ceramic; fritware, painted in luster on a transparent glaze with touches of cobalt blue
  • Place Made: Raqqa, Syria
  • DATES ca. 1200–1230
    DYNASTY Ayyubid
    PERIOD Ayyubid
    DIMENSIONS 4 1/8 x 14 3/16 in. (10.5 x 36 cm)  (show scale)
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Lobby annex, 1st floor
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Carl L. Selden
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION Bowl with Peacock Motif, ca. 1200–1230. Ceramic; fritware, painted in luster on a transparent glaze with touches of cobalt blue, 4 1/8 x 14 3/16 in. (10.5 x 36 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Carl L. Selden, 78.81. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 78.81_SL1.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 78.81_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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