B.3. Pottery of Nishapur:


B.3.a. Overview of types:

Twelve types of pottery were found at Nishapur by the Metropolitan team: the largest three groups were green and yellow buff ware (largest), the colour-splashed sgraffito wares, and the distinctive Samanid black-on-white epigraphic dishes. Many of these were high quality products and similar to types found in other parts of the region or other cities in the Islamic world: this supports the patterns of trade and contact that one would expect from various wealthy centres scattered across northern Iran which lie on major east-west and north-south trade routes, and which are home to consumers and merchants who import and export.

However, one particular group is found only in Nishapur: distribution patterns around the Islamic world show that it does not occur outside of Khurasan, and within the region, that it has been found only in very limited quantities in Samarqand and Gurgan. A type found in Merv is similar but is probably locally manufactured. From the discoveries by Wilkinson, this ware seems to become popular in the C9th and to die out in the C11th. It is the so-called buff ware, with decoration in black, with characteristic green and yellow pigments; there is the occasional minimal use of red. This type presents the most interesting puzzle of Nishapuri pottery as it owes nothing to any ceramic traditions in the west or the east, even China.

[Click here for an example of animate buff ware]


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