Large Dish With Flying Cranes
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
Large Dish with Flying Cranes
Work Type
c. 1620
Creation Place: Middle East, Iran
Safavid period
Level 2, Room 2550, Art from Islamic Lands
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Physical Descriptions
Fritware with molded decoration and underglaze painting in cobalt blue
Underglazed, painted
7.5 x 41.7 cm (2 15/16 x 16 7/16 in.)
Private collection, London. [Irene Momtaz, Momtaz Islamic Art, London, 2005], sold; to Harvard University Art Museums, 2005.
Aquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gweneth Knight Memorial Fund
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
This is a large dish with upturned rim, fluted cavetto, and low, hollow foot ring. The center is painted in under-glaze cobalt blue with a design of four cranes amid clouds. There are three shades of blue, with the darkest used for outlines and stippling. The exterior or underside is sparely decorated with a peach spray. In the center of the foot ring is a faint "tassel mark."

Label Text: Re-View: Arts of India & the Islamic Lands, written 2008
Large Dish with Cranes
and Cloud Bands
Fritware with molded relief and painting under glaze
Iran, Safavid dynasty, c. 1600–1620
Arthur M. Sackler Museum, The Gweneth Knight Memorial Fund, 2005.83

The cobalt blue cranes and cloud bands on this dish reflect centuries of trade linking East Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. Initially responding to Muslim markets, Yuan-dynasty potters developed a decorative repertoire for blue-and-white wares that evolved into an international style. During the 1500s and 1600s, European merchants vastly expanded the trade in Chinese blue-and-white wares, reaching markets from the Coral Sea to the Atlantic Ocean. Members of Iran’s Safavid dynasty (1501–1722) avidly collected Ming blue-and-whites. This royal taste, coupled with official support for domestic industries after 1600, inspired Persian potters to produce in the blue-and-white idiom some of their finest wares ever.
Muslim artists have for centuries decorated their vessels with benedictory inscriptions for the owner. This dish continues the tradition, albeit borrowing the language of Daoist symbols from China. The cranes, cloud bands, and peach sprays (exterior) convey wishes for long life.

Publication History

Harvard University Art Museums, Harvard University Art Museums Annual Report 2004-2005 (Cambridge, MA, 2005), p. 14

Jessica Chloros, ""An Investigation of Cobalt Pigment on Islamic Ceramics at the Harvard Art Museums"" (thesis (certificate in conservation), Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, 2008), Unpublished, pp. 1-41 passim

Stephan Wolohojian, ed., Harvard Art Museum Handbook, Harvard Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 2008), p. 85

Exhibition History

Re-View: Arts of India & the Islamic Lands, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 04/26/2008 - 06/01/2013

Subjects and Contexts

Collection Highlights

Verification Level

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