Bowl with Flying Birds and Lotuses
Arts of the Islamic World
Shared motifs and designs in the art of diverse cultures along the Silk Route
provide some of the most visible evidence of cultural transmission between
China and the Islamic world. Through trade, tribute, gift exchange, and the
spread of religions such as Buddhism, Manichaeism, Judaism, Christianity,
and Islam, imagery associated with one artistic tradition was often adapted
or incorporated in another cultural context. Motifs that appear across the arts
of China, Central Asia, and the Islamic world include fantastical animals such
as dragons and phoenixes; cloud bands and cloud collar motifs; and flowers
such as lotuses and peonies. Yet the meanings linked to these motifs often
did not transfer from one context to the next. Similar imagery could exist
simultaneously in several regions while signifying different things.
In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, Iranian potters developed a stone paste body also known as
fritware, intended to imitate the smooth white surface of Chinese porcelain.
This fritware bowl depicting birds in flight against a background of large-scale
foliage and lotus flowers represents a Mongol Ilkhanid interpretation of the
Chinese lotus, a flower unknown in Iran.
Ceramic, "Sultanabad" ware; stone paste, painted in cobalt blue and black under a transparent glaze
This item is not on view
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Frederic B. Pratt
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Bowl with Flying Birds and Lotuses, 14th century. Ceramic, "Sultanabad" ware; stone paste, painted in cobalt blue and black under a transparent glaze, 4 5/16 x 8 11/16 in. (11 x 22 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Frederic B. Pratt, 36.943. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, CUR.36.943.jpg)
. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2008
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