Art

Small Bowl with Peacock

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Small Bowl with Peacock
Vessel
10th century
Samanid period
Creation Place: Nishapur, Iran
Buff-colored earthenware painted with black (manganese), yellow (lead-tin), and green (copper) under clear lead glaze
6.7 x 16.2 cm (2 5/8 x 6 3/8 in.)
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art
, 2002.50.69
Department of Islamic & Later Indian Art
,
Description
A prominent bird facing left dominates the interior of this small bowl. The artist has whimsically concocted a creature with a trilobed crest, a cere (protrusion above the bill), rings of multicolored feathers around the neck and breast, and a yellow wing. The bird’s salient feature, however, is a fan-shaped tail, which above all else suggests that it is a peacock. There is a single, legible inscription in Syriac meaning “eye” or “fount” between the bird’s back and tail. On the upper walls beneath the rim, a band of scrolling triangular leaves is bordered by black lines.
No slip is detectable over the light buff ceramic body of the bowl. Except for its flat, slightly concave base, which is only partially glazed, it appears to have been covered in a clear glaze. Its condition is difficult to assess, because much of the interior surface is coated with a modern varnish. It is clearly fragmentary, reassembled from numerous small pieces, and has considerable overpainting along the rim, the scrolling band, and the lower body of the peacock.
Provenance
[Hadji Baba Rabbi House of Antiquities,Teheran, 1973], sold; to Stanford and Norma Jean Calderwood, Belmont, MA (by 1973-2002), gift; to Harvard Art Museums, 2002.
Bibliography
Mary McWilliams, "With Quite Different Eyes: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art", Apollo, ed. David Ekserdjian (November 2002), vol. CLVI no. 490, pp. 12-16, p.12, fig. 3

Mary McWilliams, Closely Focused, Intensely Felt: Selections from the Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art, brochure, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2004)

Mary McWilliams, ed., In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art, exh. cat., ed. Mary McWilliams Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2013), p. 32, cat. 16, ill.; p. 180, cat. 16, ill.

Exhibition History
Closely Focused, Intensely Felt: Selections from the Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 08/07/2004 - 01/02/2005
In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/31/2013 - 06/01/2013