Jar, Iran, Safavid period, 16th-17th century.Earthenware painted under glaze. H x W: 20.9 x 25.6 cm (8 1/4 x 10 1/16 in). Gift of Charles Lang Freer, F1903.192 © 2016 Smithsonian Institution

ProvenanceDikran Garabed Kelekian (C.L. Freer source) (1868 - 1951)
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919)

The fluted shape and green glaze of this jar are based on Chinese lidded jars from Longquan. Although celadon-like vessels had been produced in Iran since the fourteenth century, a revival took place in the seventeenth century. These Persian green-glazed wares, avidly sought in Iran and exported to Turkey, probably served as less expensive alternatives to Chinese celadons. In 1611 the Persian ruler Shah Abbas (r. 1587-1629) donated his outstanding collection of Chinese porcelains as an endowment to his ancestral shrine in the northwestern city of Ardabil. 

Dishes and bowls bearing the same designs as these pieces, made in Jingdezhen in the first decades of the fifteenth century, are included in the collection of the Topkapi palace in Istanbul, where they were used as tableware. Compared to fourteenth century porcelains, these pieces are thinner, and their cobalt decorations feature single large motifs painted with finer lines, which allow more of the white porcelain ground to show. Such decoration reflects the emergence of Chinese taste, as the result of the growing influence in Jingdezhen of patronage from the imperial court. Nonetheless, Jingdezhen porcelain continued to be in demand in West Asian markets.