Samanid bowls

Date: Tenth century
Location or Findspot (Modern-Day Country): Iran
Medium: Earthenware
Dimensions: 25–35 cm in diameter, various depths
Description: These bowls are from the important center of Samanid ceramic production at Nishapur (Iran); they were also produced at Samarkand. They were made by covering reddish clay with a slip, decorated with text and/or image, and then fired with a clear glaze. Two of these bowls include the Arabic word for "blessing" in their designs: one has the word incorporated into the bodies of two birds, another has it repeated several times among the many birds and animals. This latter bowl has four seated figures around a central image of a horse and cheetah.

Other Samanid bowls rely entirely on Arabic epigraphy for their decoration. The one shown records a proverb in Kufic script: ""Deliberation before action protects you from regret; luck and well-being." Such pithy sayings are very common on these bowls. Contemporary Islamicate books record inscriptions suitable for a wide range of objects that include bowls, books, and even mosquito nets.

The model of a kiln in the Afrasiab Museum, Samarkand, shows how Samanid-era vessels were fired.
Relevant Textbook Chapter(s): 5

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Cleveland Museum of Art, Samanid bowl (1959.249) Cleveland Museum of Art, Samanid bowl (1969.300) Cleveland Museum of Art, Samanid bowl (1956.225) Samanid-era kiln model, Afrasiab Museum, Samarkand