F. Catalogue of Raqqa Lustre
  vessels in the Ashmolean



the lower half of a jar or pot, made of soft buff-coloured earthenware. Decoration is in gold lustre on a manganese/brownish-purple glaze, and seems to consist solely of a Kufic or pseudo-Kufic band. The inscription band is 1.5cm wide, above a 1cm-wide solid lustre band around the body. Words are difficult to make out (if there are any), but several "qafs" seem legible. Here, as on the other manganese-glazed vessels, the decoration has been largely rubbed away. See also 1956.143. D=15.3cm, H=9.7cm. C12th-C13th. Published: Watson and Porter, "Tell Minis Wares" in Oxford Studies in Islamic Art IV (1987) No. C17, p.218: This is an error in OSIA. This reference is actually to 1956.143, discussed above.

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a conical bowl of buff-coloured stonepaste on a very shallow base. It is covered in a thick, brownish-purple glaze overpainted in gold lustre. A large part has been restored. The exterior decoration consists of a band of pseudo-calligraphy at the rim, while the interior is covered in concentric bands as follows: 3cm-wide band of pseudo-calligraphy 1cm from top; solid lustre band 0.5cm- wide; 1.5cm band of plain glaze; golden lustre band with diagonal stripes across base. The diagonal stripes are a bit unusual: at least I have seen no other samples with this design. The pseudo-calligraphy is a familiar technique, although on the manganese- glazed vessels it is different from most of the pseudo-inscriptions found on transparent-glazed pottery. (The one exception is the rather unusual bowl 1956.103). For example, see jug X3131, whose band of pseudo-calligraphy consists solely of squiggles, curved lines, and multitudinous dots. D=20cm, H=6.7cm. C12th-C13th. Published: Watson and Porter, "Tell Minis Wares" in Oxford Studies in Islamic Art IV (1987) No. C21, p.218; Fehervari (1973), no.152.

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a stonepaste bowl of similar size and shape to X3130, with a large repair. The clear, turquoise-tinged glaze has pooled in the base, which is common to the thick Raqqan glazes. The interior is divided into eight panels by blue cobalt underglaze lines, and decorated with swirly lustre and white designs (four of the panels), or calligraphy with whorled background (the other four panels). The panels containing only thick white vegetal designs reserved on swirl and spiral lustre backgrounds are strikingly similar to the Raqqa jar (48.113.12) in the Metropolitan Museum, New York. The base also contains an inscription, identical to at least two of those in the side panels, which reads barakat ("blessing, benediction"). The third inscription has been largely made up by repair, but it is likely that it once also read barakat. This inscription style is extremely similar to the Raqqa cup (49.115.9) in the Metropolitan Museum, New York, leading me to believe that all three of these vessels were produced in the same workshop, if not by the same hand. H=10cm, D=19.25cm. Late C12th-early C13th. Unpublished.

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This small dish is of a very simple and well-balanced shape, hearkening back to the early 'Abbasid glazed wares imitating Chinese porcelain. It is stonepaste with a very slightly green-tinged transparent glaze. The decoration is simple, though demonstrates the reluctance to leave blank space which is characteristic of Raqqa lustreware. It consists of concentric solid lustre bands (both very narrow and very wide) beginning at the rim, and continuing to the very degraded inscription in the base. The inscription, although in a more fluid and slanting style to that found in the base of 1978.2355, is nearly identical in terms of the exaggeration of the letters, and in the leaf and floral motifs filling the background. They both read sirr ("joy"). H=4.5cm, D=15.75cm. Late C12th-early C13th. Unpublished.

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a pot of bulbous shape, termed "tankard" in the Museum catalogue. Although a large part is fabricated, it probably once had a handle. It is made of heavy buff-coloured stonepaste, glazed inside (transparent) and out, with the glaze near the base becoming a bright opaque turquoise, which is unusual for Raqqan wares. Unless the entire rim is restored, it is decorated with a band of inscription around the rim. The body has four blue and turquoise medallions with almost completely obliterated designs. There is a band of lustre at the widest part of the body, immediately below a very badly decayed band of inscription or pseudo-inscription. Most of the decoration is completely rubbed away. H=12.5cm, D=7.5cm. C12th-C13th. Unpublished.

The museum card catalogue mentions that this vessel may have come from Persia, which is unsurprising considering the similarity between Persian and Raqqa lustrewares already noted.

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a bowl with a high ring base (2 cm), no carination, and slightly flared sides. It has a slightly irregular rim. The transparent glaze extends over part of the base of this buff-coloured stonepaste vessel. The outer decoration extends a little over halfway down the body, where there is possibly a tiny inscription below a wide band of spiral decorations. The inner decoration is more elaborate and consists of: 1cm-wide stripe of lustre; a white stripe with four small floral motifs consisting of three dots; a band separated into four panels by blue and turquoise vertical stripes (the two opposite panels have inscriptions or pseudo-inscriptions, the other two have leaf / fish designs reminiscent of a blue and black underglaze-painted Raqqa bowl found in the Metropolitan Museum of New York); a white stripe with four more of the same floral design; lustre stripe. In the base are inscriptions and designs placed randomly around the field against the white background, including the word 'amara, "to live long, flourish, prosper" (which may appear twice). The other three words are indecipherable. H=10 cm, H=19cm. Late C12th–early C13th. Unpublished.

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a composite piece, most of which is from a juglet. The base is from a bowl, other pieces may be from bowls or other "non-juglet" vessels as well. The decoration (on parts that seem to be original) consists of a wide band of lustre around the rim (1.5cm wide), followed by a 2cm-wide band of white with curves and dots, and thin stripes at top and bottom. This is followed by another lustre band (1.5cm-wide) at the join of the neck and body. The body has a wide band (5.5-6cm) of palmette-like designs (in the "pudgy" style) reserved in white against a scrollwork background, between medallions which are completely covered in turquoise or blue splashes. The handle, which is solid lustre, ends in one such medallion under-painted in cobalt. The next medallion anti-clockwise has a very runny turquoise under-painted blob. H=12.5cm, D=5cm. Late C12th–early C13th. Unpublished.

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a large bowl on a low foot, with a flat rim about 2cm wide. It is of stonepaste covered in a white slip and thick greenish glaze. It is overpainted in lustre with a pseudo-Naskh band around the rim. The body is divided into quadrants with cobalt blue, but the lustre decoration on the inside is so badly eroded as to render the designs indistinguishable. A very large part of this vessel is restored. H=11.25cm, D=36.5cm. Late C12th–early C13th. Unpublished.

This vessel is reported to have been found at Fustat, and as has been mentioned (since Raqqan lustres are often similar to Egyptian wares) it is possible this vessel was actually made in Egypt. It has no characteristics peculiar to Raqqa, although the style of the pseudo-inscription is not unfamiliar.

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a partial piece, probably the bottom of a jug. It is earthenware, reduction-fired with a white slip covering the entire vessel. The transparent glaze extends 2-3cm from the 2cm-tall ring base, which is characteristic of Raqqa wares. It has a design similar to X3131: lustre medallions painted over blue or turquoise underglaze-painted splashes with floral designs; three-lobed vegetal designs floating between a split-leaf shape between the medallions. This vegetal design is like the split-palmettes found on vessel 48.113.6 in the Metropolitan Museum of New York. The medallion/floral band is about 6cm wide, followed by a 1.5cm-wide lustre band below, at the widest part of the body. H=10.8cm. C12th. Unpublished.

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a hemispherical bowl on a medium-high foot (about 1cm tall), entirely intact. It is of buff-coloured stonepaste with no slip and is covered with a slightly greenish transparent glaze. There is no cobalt decoration at all, and the designs are entirely overpainted in a brown lustre with heavy red overtones. The exterior decoration is unusual in that it is not the expected band of spirals, but consists of a simple band of wave shapes accented with half-circle single brush-strokes and dots. The inner decoration begins with a band of pseudo-kufic about ½cm down from the rim, remarkably similar to that on manganese-glazed jar 1956.143. Next are eight radiating bands originating at a solid lustre band at the edge of the base and extending up to a 1cm-wide solid lustre band shortly below the pseudo-inscription. In each panel there is a "solid-spiral" design, accented with several dots. The base contains what can be described as either a leaf design or a severely degraded inscription of some sort, reminiscent of the "yin-yang" symbol as the circle of the base is divided into nearly equal and similarly shaped dark and light parts. Late C12th-early C13th. H=8cm, D=18cm. Published: Fehervari, Islamic Pottery, 1973. #150, pl.61a.

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a short round jar or pot covered with a manganese-coloured opaque glaze. There is no crackling although the glaze is very thick, especially towards the unglazed short ring base. The decoration consists of wide stripes of badly decayed gold lustre in rings around the body, beginning at the rim and alternating with a band of "spades" in continuous medallions, and midway around the body with a band of pseudo-Kufic. Very similar-looking inscription bands are found in various other vessels, including a Raqqa lustre from the Metropolitan Museum of New York (#48.113.15) and a jug from Rayy in the Victoria & Albert Museum. The decoration on this and other manganese-glazed vessels is occasionally different in style and choice of motifs from the other Raqqa lustre ceramics. Late C12th-first half of C13th. H=17.5cm, D=10.75cm. Published: Fehervari, Islamic Pottery, 1973. #153, pl.61c; Watson and Porter, "Tell Minis Wares" in Oxford Studies in Islamic Art IV (1987) p.218 & pls. 247; C17.



a conical bowl on a tall base consisting of buff-coloured stonepaste covered in a transparent glaze over a white slip. It is decorated with coloured splashes over medallions, as are jugs X3131 and X3438. The cobalt underglaze splashes are almost completely gone, while the lustre remains, although the turquoise splash remains bright. The outer decoration consists of a 4cm band of whorls surrounded top and bottom by 1cm-wide bands of solid lustre. The inner decoration is a 1.5cm lustre band, then a white band with a three-lobed palmette design every 2cm. This band is repeated directly above the base, on the other side of the 6cm-wide band of medallion and split-palmette pattern, sometimes reserved in white against scrollwork. As mentioned above, both the medallions and the split-palmette in this particular style are common to Raqqa lustres. H=9.25cm, D=19cm. Late C12th or first half of C13th. Published: Fehervari, Islamic Pottery, 1973. #151, p.113 & pl.61b. Comparative material: Victoria & Albert Museum, Acc. No. 84-1899.

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a conical bowl 7.5cm tall, 19.5cm in diameter at the mouth, and a short base 7cm in diameter. It is stonepaste covered by a thick manganese-coloured glaze with many bubbles in the outer part near base. Both inside and out are overpainted in a gold lustre. Little lustre decoration remains outside, but still just visible is a band of spirals alternating with short vertical lines under the rim, 1 ½ cm wide. The inner decoration consists of concentric circles of lustre-paint (with a 0.5-0.75cm gap between each band) composed of: top stripe around rim; Calligraphic or pseudo-calligraphic band 1.5 cm wide; solid stripe 1.5 cm wide; band 3 cm wide with vine / acanthus scroll. These bands are separated into panels of about 4cm wide by two vertical stripes. The base is decorated with concentric rings ending in a three-lobed floral motif at the centre. Although the painterly hand is free and therefore seems characteristic of Raqqa painting, the motifs represented are not as familiar as those on other vessels in this collection. H=7.4cm, D=19.6cm. Late C12th–early C13th. Published: Fehervari, Islamic Pottery, 1973. #152 (not illustrated).

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a stemmed cup of graceful design. A transparent glaze with no hint of green extends completely over the base, which is unusual for Raqqa glazed-wares. The body is stonepaste, probably covered with a white slip, again an unusual feature. The exterior decoration consists of fifteen panels divided by blue and turquoise underpainted stripes. Each contains a variation on arabesque design in lustre on a white background. The inner decoration at the base is very interesting, consisting of an inscription once filled in blue (largely faded), surrounded by a blue stripe, then a lustre stripe at the rim. The inscription may begin something like: "By order of Sheikh … the pious, the devout (or the name: Taqiy al-Din) …at the house of…." (I believe I have identified the words taqiy ["pious, devout"], al-din ["the pious one"] li-rasm ["by order of"] and dar [actually "house" rather than "at the house"], but have been so far unable to decipher the other four words. Al-din is likely part of the sheikh’s name, in which case taqiy is as well, but I cannot read the intervening word). The potting and decoration of this vessel are much finer than many of the others in this collection, which would make sense if this were a commissioned piece. Some care has been taken to fill the outside panels with interesting interlace designs, instead of unimaginative whorls, and there is a greater than average use of blue as accent to the lustre. The inside of the vessel is given texture by the conventional haphazard tiny whorls, however, against which the inscription is reserved in white with underglaze blue. D=16cm, H= . Late C12th–early C13th. Published: "From Silver to Ceramics," Ashmolean Museum Exhibition 1986. pl.69.

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a jug or tankard composed of a buff-coloured stonepaste body covered in a transparent alkaline glaze on the outside and glazed blue on the inside. The exterior is decorated in reddish lustre and black. The handle is missing and a large section of the neck and rim are repaired, as well as most of the tall ring-base. There is crackling in the glaze, which is typical of the thickly applied Raqqa glazes. The body design seems to be pseudo-calligraphic, although there is also a trefoil-leaf design in white reserved on a scrollwork/arabesque background. This leaf design is very similar to that around the inside rim of an underglaze-painted bowl also said to be from Raqqa, in the Berlin State Museum. The pseudo-calligraphy or vine-like design on the body is very similar to Raqqa vessel 48.113.12 in the Metropolitan Museum of New York. Approximate dimensions are 19.5cm tall, 8cm diameter of mouth, 5cm diameter of base and 12-15cm diameter of body. Dates to the late C12th-early C13th. Unpublished.

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a very thickly potted earthenware bottle, probably once long-necked, although most of the neck is now missing. It is covered with a thick transparent glaze, which has crackled. The wide band of vine scroll and leaf designs which cover most of the body is painted in a reddish-purple lustre, which has bled into the glaze, turning it pink. H=8.5cm. Probably C13th. Published: Caiger-Smith, Lustre Pottery, London 1985, colour fig. VIII.

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this vessel consists of seven hemispherical compartments of identical size arranged in a floral shape on a high base, probably a sweetmeat dish. It is moulded, in buff-coloured earthenware and covered in a greenish-coloured transparent glaze, which is very thick and runs in long drips to the base. The decoration is as follows: cobalt blue inscriptions in the centre compartment read sirr ("joy") and in the upper right compartment (indecipherable); three lustre-and-white-only compartments with "S-like" patterns, and two with cobalt non-epigraphic decoration (leaves or spades with scalloped lustre decoration). The exterior decoration consists of small and large panels of scrolls, sometimes doubled, and very conventional. The style of the three "S-like" patterns is similar to the inscription style on the stem-cup 1978.2171, both being thick, of lustre, with white inside (although on the stem-cup this space is reserved for blue which has since faded). D=25.4cm. Date: c.1260. Unpublished.

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a conical bowl on a high foot. In shape and decoration it is similar to bowl 1956.147, and bears the conventional exterior whorled design, in a variation identical to that on bowl 1956.147 and similar to X3130 and 1978.2176. There are two bands of pseudo-Naskh, one near the base and the other near the top, both a bit like that on 1956.143. Although the museum catalogue describes the decoration in the base as a "fleur-de-lys-like motif," I would rather describe it as a degraded inscription like that in X3068, surrounded with graceful vegetal designs. H=9.5cm, D=20cm. C13th. Published: Porter, Medieval Syrian Pottery, Ashmolean 1981, pl. XIX.



a conical bowl on a high vertical foot, of buff-coloured stonepaste covered with a pale turquoise-coloured transparent glaze that extends almost to the base. It is over-painted in golden-brown lustre on the exterior and interior sides, and chocolate lustre in the base. Its exterior decoration has a whorl band of approx. 4cm band with a 1cm-wide stripe at top and bottom, then 0.5cm space and a 2cm-wide lustre band just before the base. The interior features medallions alternating with rectangular panels containing either pseudo-floral blobby shapes in a whorl background, or pseudo-Kufic in white on gold lustre. The centre seems to contain the same "inscription" as the sides, although in a more degraded and decorative style. This vessel is decorated in the aforementioned "pudgy" style. D=20cm, H=9cm. Early C13th. Unpublished.

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a wheel-thrown tankard on a tall ring base of heavy but well-potted buff-coloured stonepaste. The glaze covers all of the base, and is transparent with no hint of blue. It is decorated with a Kufic or pseudo-Kufic inscription band around the neck, between two solid lustre bands. There is a wide lustre band just below the widest part of body, above which three medallions underpainted with cobalt blue rings (not solid blobs as on previous vessels), alternating with a possible (degraded) inscription. The shape of this tankard is unlike others of this period, which are often wider at the top with a narrow base: this one is bottom-heavy on a fairly tall foot. H=13.5cm. Date is c.1260. Unpublished.



a small triangular table, probably moulded, in stonepaste. There is a hole in the top approximately 7cm across, around which are three raised quadrilaterals with tiny, painted, three-lobed designs (see X3438, 1956.147 and 1978.2175). Also on top, in each corner, are raised medallions containing raised motifs of some sort, too worn to be distinguishable. The whole vessel is painted in blue and turquoise underglaze and gold lustre. Around the sides runs an illegible inscription and scrollwork. It rests on three feet which are restored. H=4.5cm, L=19cm. Date is c.1260. Unpublished.



a conical bowl decorated in conventional fashion. The exterior is covered in the conventional whorls discussed above, and the interior of the base bears a split-palmette almost identical to X3130 and similar to 1956.147. There is a large degraded Kufic inscription around the interior walls, reserved in white against a background of tiny lustre whorls. A four-sided design in blue is repeated 3 times around the interior, inside of which is a split-palmette like those on X3438 and 1956.147. Tiny palmettes composed of three brush-strokes, like those found on 1956.147 circumnavigate the base of the interior. D=22cm, H=43cm. Early C13th. Published: Ashmolean, Eastern Ceramics from Reitlinger, 198, No.370; V. Porter, Medieval Syrian Pottery, Ashmolean Museum 1981, pl. xviii; Arts of Islam, The Hayward Gallery, 1976, no.304; Islamic Arts Circle at the V & A, 1969, no.94; OCS Exhibition, 1949. No.13; OCS Exhibition, 1950. No.103.

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