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Celadon-glazed porcelain dish with Persian poetry. China; 15th century (Calligraphy: Iran; 16th-17th century). Diam: 48.5 cm. Inv. no. 6/1978. The David Collection

Chinese porcelain with a celadon glaze was greatly admired in the Islamic world under the early Abbasid caliphs (8th-9th century), and after the advent of the Mongols in the 13th century it attained a very special status. Written sources show that in certain places in the Middle East, it was believed that celadon would shatter if it were used to hold poisoned food.

The type and content of the inscription lead us to surmise that this dish, which was originally made in China, was later incised in Iran after the 16th-17th century. The inscription is a Sufi-inspired Persian poem:

O king, look at me generously as a dervish / Look at my condition, my sick and wounded heart / Although I do not deserve your forgiveness, do not look at me; look to your generosity.”