Dish with Peonies, Nishapur, Iran, Timurid period, ca. 1475. © 2013 President and Fellows of Harvard College
Fritware painted with blue (cobalt) under clear alkali glaze. D. 43 cm. Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art, 2002.50.6
If the cobalt used to decorate Yuan and early Ming blue-and- white porcelains was initially imported from Iran, then Chinese potters more than repaid the favor in the form of exported decorative motifs. Avidly collected in Islamic lands, Chinese blue-and- white porcelain wares exerted enormous influence on Muslim potters of the fifteenth through the seventeenth century. Produced in northeastern Iran in the second half of the fifteenth century, this impressive dish combines decorative solutions developed during the reign of two dynasties in China. Antecedents for the “wave and crest” motif along the rim and the “double scroll” on the outside wall can be found in Yuan (1271–1368) blue-and- white wares, while the fleshy peonies in the center derive from Ming (1368–1644) prototypes. The curiously restless and asymmetrical nature of the interior composition results from the zones of the circle being divided into odd and even units—three peonies in the center, eight floral sprays along the wall, and six wave-and-crest motifs on the rim. Although the glaze has deteriorated somewhat, this dish is overall in fine condition. Put back together from a few large fragments, it has minimal losses.