D. Kashan Lustre:


D.1. Introduction:

The ceramic industry at Kashan seems to date back to the C10th when it is mentioned by the geographer al-Muqaddasi, writing c.985. Its heyday is seen with the beautiful lustre wares that are produced between the end of the C12th and the beginning of the C14th. There seems to be very little impact on the industry from the devastating Mongol invasions in the 1220s, though there seems to be a trough in productivity between the 1230s and 1260s when very few dated or signed pieces are known. The main impact of the Mongol invasions seems to have been that the emphasis of production moves from vessels (the pre-Mongol trend) to tilework (post-Mongol). This development is clearly stimulated by the huge building programmes initiated by the Mongol invaders, such as the great palace built near the shores of the Caspian, at Takht-i Sulaiman, by the Mongol sultan Abaqa Khan, in 1270-75; and the period of intense building work sparked off by Oljaytü (1304-16), who erected an entire new capital city at Sultaniyya, west of Qazvin.

The full flowering of the style as diagnosed by Ettinghausen is preceded by a few phases, which were previously thought to have been produced by a separate and contemporary industry at Rayy. This accepted version of the story was first called into question by Watson, whose theory is that the so-called "Rayy" styles were instead produced at Kashan, with the "Rayy" styles dating slightly earlier than the "Kashan" style. He renames the types and suggests a chronology for their development: the earliest "Rayy" style he calls the "Monumental" style, the second the "Miniature" style; after this comes the "Kashan" style. Grübe and Morgan have accepted this model though they call it instead Phases 1, 2 and 3. We should be careful, however, of thinking of this development in terms of a steady evolution: instead it seems that these styles occur in short sharp bursts which overlap with each other. Altogether it seems the period from roughly 1175 to 1225 sees intense and innovatory activity in the ceramic traditions of Persia.


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