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Lot 93. An Abbasid lustre pottery bowl depicting a musician, Mesopotamia, 10th century; 23.5cm. diamEstimate 15,000 — 25,000 GBP. Lot Sold 18,750 GBP. Photo: Sotheby’s 2014

of shallow rounded form with a slightly everted rim and narrow footring, the earthenware body painted in golden lustre on a cream ground, with a standing figure in the centre holding a tambourine against a dotted background, a single-line Kufic inscription on his left-hand side and underneath the base, the reverse with large stylised peacock eyes.

Provenance: Croisier Collection, Switzerland

ExhibitedTreasures of Islam, Musée d’Art et d’Histoire, Geneva, 25 June – 27 October 1985

LiteratureTreasures of Islam, Musée d’Art et d’Histoire, Geneva, 1985, Additional Exhibits, p.396, no.572

Noteinscriptions

Inside: baraka ‘amal (?) ‘Blessing work (?)’
Under the base: possibly [bara]ka ‘Blessing’

The present plate belongs to the group of ceramics termed by Ernst Grube « the First Abbasid Period » and noted by him as important instigators and precursors of the future popularity of the lustre technique (Grube 1976, pp.44-80). Grube also explores the style of the human figures as key iconographic characters of Abbasid lustreware. They are represented in a wide variety of poses: standing alone, holding an object, on horseback or together with another figure. The musician on the present dish appears to be holding a tambourine and belongs to a fully-evolved repertoire depicting the recreational and pleasurable activities of the court.

Sotheby’s. Arts of the Islamic World, Londres | 08 oct. 2014, 10:30 AM