after treatment, inside Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

As central control weakened in the Abbasid Empire, regional dynasties arose to support, challenge, or redefine the authority of the caliph in Baghdad. The arts flourished in many centers, and wealthy merchant and professional classes emerged. A dramatic increase in productivity and innovation and an unprecedented expansion of figural decoration characterize the arts of this period.

A transforming event was the influx of Turkic and Mongol peoples from Central and Inner Asia. Most of the objects in this case were created in lands ruled by the most important of the Turkic dynasties, the Great Seljuks (1038–1157), and their immediate successors, the Atabegs. The Mongol invasions into Islamic lands began in the early 1200s and culminated in the 1258 sack of Baghdad. Eventually, the Mongols established their rule as the Yuan dynasty in China, the Chagatay Khanate in Central Asia, the Golden Horde Khanate in southern Russia, and the Ilkhanid dynasty (1256–1335) in greater Iran. The integration of a vast Eurasian territory into the Mongol Empire facilitated commerce and communication, bringing fresh Chinese inspiration into Islamic art.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Mina'i Bowl with Horsemen, Seated Figures and Harpies, and Pseudo-inscription around the Exterior
Work Type
Creation Place: Middle East, Iran, Isfahan province
Seljuk-Atabeg period
Persistent Link
Level 2, Room 2550, Art from Islamic Lands, The Middle East and North Africa
View this object's location on our interactive map
Physical Descriptions
Fritware with overglaze painted decoration in mina'i technique
8.7 x 22.2 x 22.2 cm (3 7/16 x 8 3/4 x 8 3/4 in.)
Sarah C. Sears collection, Boston, MA, (by 1935) by descent; to her daughter Mrs. J. D. Cameron Bradley, Boston, MA (1935-1936), gift; to Fogg Art Museum, 1936.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Sarah C. Sears Collection
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
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Painted in green, blue, orange, and black over the glaze on a white ground.
Publication History

Mary McWilliams, "Islamic Ceramic Traditions", The Studio Potter, ed. Gerry Williams (New Hampshire, December 2002), vol. 31, no.1, pp45, fig. 5

Jessica Chloros, "An Investigation of Cobalt Pigment on Islamic Ceramics at the Harvard Art Museums" (thesis (certificate in conservation), Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, 2008), Unpublished, pp. 1-41 passim

Exhibition History

Islamic Art and the Written Word, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 10/05/1983 - 11/27/1983

Paintings for Princes: The Art of the Book in Islam, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/27/1990 - 03/25/1990

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

32Q: 2550 Islamic, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

Google Art Project

This record was created from historic documentation and may not have been reviewed by a curator; it may be inaccurate or incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at