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Rectangular ceramic tile with Arabic and floral decoration.
AKM796, Tile, Front

© The Aga Khan Museum

Side view of rectangular ceramic tile with Arabic and floral decoration, on mount.
AKM796, Tile, Side

© The Aga Khan Museum

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On Display
Tile
  • Accession Number:AKM796
  • Place:Iran, Kashan
  • Dimensions:17.5 cm × 38.1 cm × 2 cm
  • Date:Early 14th Century
  • Materials and Technique:Fritware, underglaze and lustre-painted

This tile is a decorative element for a building, monument, or other architectural structure. Architectural tiles were often decorated, as seen here, with moulded central inscriptions in thuluth script set on a lavishly ornamented ground with tiny plant designs and vegetal sprays. On both ends, this tile also has narrow borders on a cream white background with densely executed inscriptions in naskh-type script, creating the impression that it was written in haste.

This tile is part of a large calligraphic frieze comprised mainly of citations from the holy book, the Qur’an. Existing examples in international sites and fragments in other collections indicate they were part of the inner wall of a tomb or shrine, framing a panel, or possibly decorating a cenotaph. [1]

The lustre technique applied on this tile was in vogue during the Ilkhanid dynasty in Iran. [2] One of the most influential ceramic centres of Iran and entire Near East, Kashan established the tradition of lustre-painted ceramics and tiles in Iran, and from there, this tradition spread throughout Mediterranean world beginning in the 12th century (see AKM559, AKM763, AKM792, AKM556, AKM557).

- Filiz Çakır Phillip

Notes

1. See Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom, The art and architecture of Islam, 1250–1800 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1995), 10.


2. The sons of Chengis Khan ruled the Mongol Empire and created four khanates: Yuan in China, Chaghatay in Central Asia, the Golden Horde in southern Russia, and Ilkhanate in Greater Iran. 

References

Aga Khan Trust for Culture. Treasures of the Aga Khan Museum: Architecture in Islamic Arts. Geneva: Aga Khan Trust for Culture, 2011. IBSN: 9780987846303

Blair, Sheila S., and Jonathan M. Bloom. The art and architecture of Islam, 1250–1800. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1995. ISBN: 9780300058888

Note: This online resource is reviewed and updated on an ongoing basis. We are committed to improving this information and will revise and update knowledge about this object as it becomes available.

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