C.5. What is the effect on ceramics
  of the silver shortage theory?


If the theory of a silver shortage is true, then the Samanid clients accustomed to buying their dishes in silver could no longer afford to do so. This may explain the new industry of beaten bronze objects with a very thin veneer of silver on the "inlaid" inscriptions: in many extant cases this is rubbing away. However, it may also explain the rise of a type of pottery which is not known elsewhere, as its inspiration derives from silver dishes that themselves are not known outside of the Samanid lands. It is thus a local enterprise to replace with affordable imitations the now unattainable silver dishes of old.

Such a phenomenon is not unique to C9th-C11th Iran. Michael Vickers writes about the black and red figure pottery of C5th BC Athens, demonstrating how the pottery imitates contemporary silver and gold vessels of which very few have survived, and it is thought that the early Iznik dishes (the so-called "Baba Nakaš" wares) and many of the distinctive shapes of later Iznik vessels are also derived from metal prototypes (see Raby, passim). It would not therefore be unusual if these Samanid vessels did owe their origin to a silver shortage that gave rise to a need for affordable imitations in pottery.


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