Imitation Samarra-ware bowl, 9th-10th century (Samanid Period, 819–1005)
Earthenware; painted in manganese with green splashes on opaque white glaze
Overall: 2 1/4 in x 7 3/4 in; 5.7 cm x 19.7 cm
Gift of the Arthur M. Sackler Foundation
The city of Nishapur, in northeastern Iran, was a thriving metropolis under the rule of the Samanids (819–1005). Excavations there have revealed homes, schools, marketplaces, palaces, and mosques, as well as the material culture of everyday life. Artifacts such as chess pieces, jewelry, and ceramics like this bowl, give us insights into daily life in medieval Iran. This Nishapur bowl also tells a remarkable story about trade and cross-cultural exchange during this period. Its decoration of green splashes with a central inscription imitates specific wares from Basra, Iraq, which were imported into Nishapur before potters there began making local copies. The splashes of green glaze reveal the influence of Chinese sancai ware, which was imported into both Iraq and Iran along the Silk Road.
-Kendra Weisbin, Associate Curator of Education, Mount Holyoke College Art Museum (Sept. 2016)