Smithsonian Freer Gallery Sackler Gallery National Museum of Asian Art Gallery Guide Arts of the Islamic World
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Among the most distinct examples of early ceramics from the Islamic world are a group produced during the reign of the Samanids (819 –1005) in Khurasan in northeastern Iran and Transoxiana (present–day Afghanistan and Uzbekistan). These vessels are particularly notable for their inscriptions, consisting of pithy and moralizing proverbs.

The deep bowl is one of the great masterpieces of the Samanid ceramic tradition. Notable for its bold juxtaposition of calligraphy and abstract floral design, this extraordinary vessel is inscribed with the following aphorism: "It is said, those who are content with their own opinion, run into danger. Blessing to the owner."

Such vessels were probably intended for a highly literate class of urban patrons and their inscriptions are among the earliest extant proverbs from Islamic Iran.

Deep Bowl
Deep bowl
Iran or Afghanistan, 10th century
glazed earthenware
11.2 cm H x 39.3 Dia (4 7/16" x 15 1/2"),
Purchase F1957.24


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