Islamic Arts


Early Islamic ceramics typically followed the traditions of Byzantium, Parthian, Sasanian Iran and the Classical Mediterranean, making it often hard to distinguish between Islamic objects and those of the preceding period.

Khorasan, Transoxiana, Nishapur and Samarqand emerged as the main centres of ceramic production under the Samanids, during the 10th and 11th centuries, producing some of the most strikingly beautiful ceramics of the medieval Islamic period.

Great developments in ceramic production occurred under the Seljuks in Iran during the 12th and 13th centuries, most importantly with the introduction of fritware, which is composed of quartz, white clay and glaze frit. This technique facilitated the production of ceramics of finer shape, with thinner walls, resulting in a wide range of fritware objects with designs spanning from decorative floral and geometric patterns, to complex figural and narrative schemes.

In Spain, lustre reached spectacular levels of achievement with the famed ‘Alhambra’ vases of the 14th century, which are large, amphora shaped vessels, ornately decorated with inscription bands in kufic or naskh calligraphy.

The most familiar Ottoman ceramics, known by the name from where they were produced in Iznik, in western Anatolia, are characterised by their rich, deep colours off-set against a brilliant white background. From the 16th century, floral designs including carnations, roses and tulips predominated, with the most common colours being deep blues and greens, aubergine and later, a striking bright red.

Source:- “The Timeline History of Islamic Art and Architecture” by Nasser D. Khalili.

Photo above:- Iznik footed bowl with ‘hatayi’ decoration and ‘saz’ leaves, Turkey, c.1545 CE. Source:- British Museum, London.