interior
Identification and Creation
Object Number
2002.50.56
Title
Scallop-Rimmed Charger with Courtly Couple
Classification
Vessels
Work Type
vessel
Date
early 13th century
Places
Creation Place: Middle East, Iran, Kashan
Period
Seljuk-Atabeg period
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/165383
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Fritware painted with luster (copper and silver) over white lead alkali glaze opacified with tin
Dimensions
6.3 x 26.4 cm (2 1/2 x 10 3/8 in.)
Provenance
[Mansour Gallery, London, 1973], sold; to Stanford and Norma Jean Calderwood, Belmont, MA (1973-2002), gift; to Harvard Art Museums, 2002.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art
Accession Year
2002
Object Number
2002.50.56
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
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Descriptions
Description
The interior of this impressive vessel is decorated with two large-scale, seated figures whose long-sleeved garments signal their courtly status. Tiraz bands on the upper arms of one figure’s caftan offer an additional indication of wealth and prestige. A bird in the tree between the pair and a second bird below them suggest a garden setting. The background is decorated with tiny spirals incised in the luster. These background spirals, combined with the representation of the figures in reserve, are characteristic of the so-called Kashan style of luster ceramics. Bands on the wall and rim of the vessel contain Persian words that are mostly illegible due to the compromised condition of the dish. The inner inscription is written in luster on a white ground; the one on the rim is incised on a luster ground, now quite abraded. All that can be deciphered of the inner inscription is “Rustam from an infatuated heart . . .”.
Prior to its arrival at the Harvard Art Museums, this chrager was reconstructed from many small pieces and the entire inner surface covered in clear varnish. The rim and walls are nearly half recomposed from plaster and alien bits of ceramic. The center has been reassembled from original fragments, although the fish on the left side may come from another luster vessel. The exterior of the charger is decorated with loosely painted circles. The base is smoothed with a modern layer of clay.

Published Catalogue Text: In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art , written 2013
34

Scallop-rimmed charger with courtly couple
Iran, Seljuk-Atabeg period, early 13th century
Fritware painted with luster (copper and silver) over white lead alkali glaze opacified
with tin
6.3 × 26.4 cm (2 1/2 × 10 3/8 in.)
2002.50.56

Published: McWilliams 2002a, 12, fig. 2; Harvard University Art Museums 2003, 19; McWilliams, 2003, 243, 245, fig. 25; Harvard Art Museum and Wolohojian 2008, 45.

The interior of this impressive vessel is decorated with two large-scale, seated figures whose long-sleeved garments signal their courtly status. Ṭirāz bands on the upper arms of one figure’s caftan offer an additional indication of wealth and prestige. A bird in the tree between the pair and a second bird below them suggest a garden setting. The background is decorated with tiny spirals incised in the luster. These background spirals, combined with the representation of the figures in reserve, are characteristic of the so-called Kashan style of luster ceramics.[1]

Bands on the wall and rim of the vessel contain Persian words that are mostly illegible due to the compromised condition of the dish. The inner inscription is written in luster on a white ground; the one on the rim is incised on a luster ground, now quite abraded. All that can be deciphered of the inner inscription is “Rustam from an infatuated heart . . .” (Rustam zi dil-i shaydā dar nakard . . .).[2]

A courtly couple with similar facial features and details of costume appears on a luster bowl dated to 1211 and signed by the artist Muhammad ibn Abi al-Hasan.[3] Prior to its arrival at the Harvard Art Museums, cat. 34 was reconstructed from many small pieces and the entire inner surface covered in clear varnish. The rim and walls are nearly half recomposed from plaster and alien bits of ceramic. The center has been reassembled from original fragments, although the fish on the left side may come from another luster vessel. The exterior of the charger is decorated with loosely painted circles. The base is smoothed with a modern layer of clay.

Ayşin Yoltar-Yıldırım

[1] See Watson 1985, 86–109, for the use of the term “Kashan style” and examples of ceramics belonging to this group.
[2] We are grateful to Wheeler M. Thackston for this reading and transliteration.
[3] Iran-i Bastan, Tehran, 8224, illustrated in Watson 1985, fig. F.

Publication History

Mary McWilliams, "With Quite Different Eyes: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art", Apollo, ed. David Ekserdjian (November 2002), vol. CLVI no. 490, pp. 12-16, p.12, fig. 2

Holly Salmon, "A Comparative Analysis of Lusterware from the Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art" (thesis (certificate in conservation), Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, June 2003), Unpublished, pp. 1-54 passim

Harvard University Art Museums, Harvard University Art Museums Annual Report 2001-2002 (Cambridge, MA, 2003), p. 19

Stephan Wolohojian and Alvin L. Clark, Jr., Harvard Art Museum/ Handbook, ed. Stephan Wolohojian, Harvard Art Museum (Cambridge, 2008), p. 45

Mary McWilliams, ed., In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art, exh. cat., Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2013), pp. 191-192, cat. 34, ill.

Exhibition History

Closely Focused, Intensely Felt: Selections from the Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 08/07/2004 - 01/02/2005

Re-View: Arts of India & the Islamic Lands, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 04/26/2008 - 06/01/2013

In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/31/2013 - 06/01/2013

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu