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Qalyān Bowl

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Safavid-dynasty, 17th centuryIranfritware with a cobalt under-glaze

The Islamic countries of the Near East and Middle East greatly admired the thin, white, hard porcelain from China. Fritware was invented in the 12th century, a ceramic that is fired at higher temperatures and is quite similar to porcelain. From the 14th to the 19th centuries, Islamic countries imported large quantities of Chinese blue and white porcelain. This specific type of porcelain and its décor was particularly influential in the manufacture of Persian ceramics during the Safavid era. This Qalyān bowl displays an interesting decoration inspired by Chinese porcelain. On one side it is embellished with blossoms, while the other shows entangled grasses and pebbles. The Persian potter was able to transform the pictorial-narrative of décor originating from a Chinese example into an ornamental abstract pattern befitting the Persian norm.