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A work made of earthenware, lustre-painted overglaze decoration.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of earthenware, lustre-painted overglaze decoration.


Abbasid Caliphate (750–1258), 9th century



About this artwork

During the Abbasid caliphate (750-1258), relative peace and an initially consolidated government allowed for the arts and sciences to flourish. The caliphate’s first capital, Baghdad, and its later capital, Samarra, became centers for cultural and commercial production. Some of antiquity’s most important scientific treatises, such as Ptolemy’s writings on the stars, were translated into Arabic while court inventors made advancements in medicine, chemistry, and mathematics. In the arts, poets such as Abu Nuwas invigorated classical Arabic literature, and artists developed a style of decoration that the west would later call “arabesque,” which refers to repetitive vegetal patterns that can be found in almost every medium of Islamic art.This jar, which has been attributed to the early 9th century, exhibits one of the most important artistic advancements that developed during the Abbasid caliphate—the introduction of luster painting over glaze. Luster-painted ceramics are considered particularly important objects both for their expensive production and their wide-ranging influence on later ceramics of the Islamic world and southern Europe. To achieve the metallic bronze of the luster glaze, the kiln had to reach a precise temperature range, which was difficult to maintain for extended periods. Among luster pottery, early Abbasid lusterwares are distinctive. These early-9th-century vessels employed multiple shades of luster, while luster-painted ceramics from the 10th century onward used a monochromatic palette.


Currently Off View


Arts of Asia




Mesopotamia (Object made in)


801 CE–900 CE


Earthenware, lustre-painted overglaze decoration


H: 8 11/16 in. (22 cm); D: 10 1/4 in. (26 cm); H (to top of handle): 9 15/16 in. (25.2 cm)

Credit Line

Mary Jane Gunsaulus Collection

Reference Number


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