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Fragment of a Bowl Depicting a Mounted Warrior

Arts of the Islamic World

This fragment of a bowl, depicting a rider carrying a shield (and possibly a lance) atop a galloping horse, is decorated in the luster technique, in which a metallic oxide glaze is applied to the body before firing, leaving a shimmering surface reminiscent of precious metals. Although this object was produced in Egypt during the period of the Fatimid dynasty (909–1171), luster was first developed as a decorative technique for ceramics in Iraq in the ninth century. The technology was also used in Syria and Iran between the eleventh and fifteenth centuries, and was revived in Iran in the late seventeenth or early eighteenth century. Surviving Fatimid Egyptian examples of lusterware were likely excavated at the site of Fustat (Old Cairo) in the early part of the twentieth century. These often display high-quality draftsmanship in the rendition of both humans and animals, quite similar to architectural and manuscript painting of the period.
MEDIUM Ceramic; earthenware, painted in luster on an opaque white glaze
  • Place Found: Fustat, Egypt
  • DATES 11th century
    DYNASTY Fatimid
    PERIOD Fatimid Period
    DIMENSIONS 15 1/2 x 15 1/2in. (39.4 x 39.4cm)  (show scale)
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    ACCESSION NUMBER 86.227.83
    CREDIT LINE Gift of the Ernest Erickson Foundation, Inc.
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION Fragment of a Bowl Depicting a Mounted Warrior, 11th century. Ceramic; earthenware, painted in luster on an opaque white glaze, 15 1/2 x 15 1/2in. (39.4 x 39.4cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Ernest Erickson Foundation, Inc., 86.227.83. Creative Commons-BY
    IMAGE overall, 86.227.83_acetate_bw.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
    "CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Pink earthenware body, monochrome lusterware Found in Fustat (old Cairo). Buff clay, white slip ground covered with clear glaze. Overglaze decoration in olive luster. Bearded cavalier with turban and large shield, adorned with a crescent in left hand. A rabbit trots alongside the horse and rider through palmette vines. The rider's foreshortened foot, his intense sideward gaze, and the scarf or turban end trailing out behind him all illustrate the earthly vitality of this piece. Scenes of hunting, fighting, dancing, and musicians were very popular in the Muslim world from Umayyad times onward, especially for royal patrons or wealthier classes who acquired these wares.
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