Smithsonian Freer Gallery Sackler Gallery National Museum of Asian Art Gallery Guide Arts of the Islamic World
IntroductioncalligraphyAbstract DesignArts of the BookThe Art of the Objectpage 1

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By the second half of the twelfth century, the production of lustre-painted ceramics, an invention of potters in ninth-century Iraq, had been adopted in Iran. In Kashan, the principal city associated with lustreware, this tradition reached new levels of artistic and technical sophistication that were never equaled elsewhere.

This plate, regarded as one of the masterpieces of lustreware, is decorated with an highly unusual and complex composition. According to one interpretation it represents a mystical allegory in which a mystic, the sleeping youth, yearns to transcend the material world (signified by the horse) in order to reach a vision of divine beauty (symbolized by the naked woman floating in the fish pond) and union with God.

Iran, dated 1210
Stone-paste, painted over glaze with lustre
3.7 x 35.2 cm
Purchase F1941.11

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