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December 1210

Shamsuddin al-Hasani Abu Zayd , (Iranian,
Saljuq period

Stone-paste painted over glaze with luster
H: 3.7 W: 35.2 D: 35.2 cm
Kashan, Iran

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The composition on this plate, one of the most complex on any known Persian lusterware, has been read as a mystical allegory regarding the quest for the Divine. According to this interpretation, the sleeping youth represents the mystic who yearns to transcend the material world, symbolized by the horse. The youth's goal is to attain a vision of divine beauty (i.e., union with God), signifed here by the naked woman floating in the fishpond. It is the only known extant plate with such an unusual and spiritually inspired iconography. One of the inscriptions records that the plate was made by Shamsuddin al-Hasani Abu Zayd, an accomplished potter of the early thirteenth century.

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