Jan 15, 2013
Jan 15, 2013




Earthenware with luster-painted design

Diameter: 12 cm (4 3/4 in.); Overall: 4.6 cm (1 13/16 in.)

Gift of the John Huntington Art and Polytechnic Trust 1915.642




The theme of light is a dominant element in Islamic art. In ceramics, works made with a reflective metallic glaze, known as luster, were prized throughout the Islamic world and beyond. Developed first in Basra, Iraq, during the 700s with the rise of Islam along with sumptuary laws prohibiting the use of precious metal vessels, lusterware techniques soon spread to different regional centers, notably Málaga and Valencia in Spain.

Lusterware ceramics were created through a double-firing process: the first firing of the vessel with a lead and tin oxide glaze produced the smooth white ground, meant to emulate Chinese porcelain. Patterns were then painted on the white vessel with a glaze of copper and other metal oxides. Refiring at a low temperature yielded an iridescent luster. Tonalities varied from one region to another.

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