Small Bowl With Peacock
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
2002.50.69
Title
Small Bowl with Peacock
Classification
Vessels
Work Type
vessel
Date
10th century
Places
Creation Place: Middle East, Iran, Nishapur
Period
Samanid period
Location
Level 2, Room 2550, Art from Islamic Lands
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Physical Descriptions
Medium
Buff-colored earthenware painted with black (manganese), yellow (lead-tin), and green (copper) under clear lead glaze
Technique
Underglazed, painted
Dimensions
6.7 x 16.2 cm (2 5/8 x 6 3/8 in.)
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.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art
Accession Year
2002
Object Number
2002.50.69
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
Descriptions
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.

Published Catalogue Text: In Harmony: The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art , written 2013
17

Small bowl with peacock
Iran, Nishapur, Samanid period, 10th century[1]
Buff-colored earthenware painted with black (manganese), yellow (lead-tin), and green (copper) under clear lead glaze
6.7 × 16.2 cm (2 5/8 × 6 3/8 in.)
2002.50.69

Published: McWilliams 2002a, 12, fig. 3; McWilliams 2004, 4, fig. 4.

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.[2] There is a single, legible inscription in Syriac between the bird’s back and tail: ʿaynā, meaning “eye” or “fount.” 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.

Mary McWilliams

[1] The bowl was last fired between 700 and 1200 years ago, according to the results of thermoluminescence analysis carried out by Oxford Authentication Ltd. in 2011.
[2] See, in this catalogue, Oya Pancaroğlu’s essay, “Feasts of Nishapur: Cultural Resonances of Tenth-Century Ceramic Production in Khurasan,” 25–35.

Publication History

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., Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2013), p. 32, cat. 16, ill.; p. 180, cat. 16, ill.

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

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

Subjects and Contexts

Collection Highlights

Verification Level

3 - Good. Object is well described and information is vetted