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Large dish with rabbits and lotus-like flowers
Place of Origin: Iran, probably Kashan
Date: approx. 1200-1300
Materials: Glazed fritware with luster decoration
Dimensions: H. 3 1/4 in x Diam. 13 1/8 in, H. 8.3 cm x Diam. 33.3 cm
Credit Line: The Avery Brundage Collection
Department: West Asian Art
Collection: Ceramics
Object Number: B60P1950
On Display: Yes
Location: Gallery 7

Description

Label:

Two long-eared rabbits contemplate one another from either side of a large plant with composite, lotus-like blossoms. Below is a small pond teeming with nine well-fed fish. This dish belongs to an important class of Kashan lusterware that includes scenes of animals or people above fishponds. A similar lusterware bowl in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, depicts a gazelle by a fishpond and the bowl's inscription includes the name of the potter, "Muhammad from Nishapur, dwelling in Kashan," thus helping to link this lusterware production to Kashan.

These objects, usually dishes, boast complex compositions with extraordinarily detailed patterns achieved through di-rect and reserve painting. No surface is left untouched, and even the background comes alive with squiggles, curls, and dots. On this dish the interior details of the lotus-like blossoms and the dotted rabbits are particularly elaborate. Rabbits are noted in medieval Islamic sources for their agility and speed. In Islamic art their depiction was thought to bring prosperity, intelligence, and longevity to the owner of the object. Rabbits appear on medieval metalwork, textiles, and ceramics especially from Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and Iran. The rabbit-fishpond iconography is rare but does appear on contemporaneous star-shaped lusterware tiles.

Two bands of script encircle the dish's main decoration. The outer band possibly repeats a phrase, but this is undecipherable. The inner band, inscribed in luster on white, is a Persian quatrain followed by a qit'a (a form of poetry in which each couplet rhymes differently) all in Persian. These verses may be translated as "The one who put his sash on went toward the other side / As he was leaving, infirm / He said: Though the master went to the other side [he died] / He never left the great cycle of time" and "Learn that if tyranny is blind / It will show its nakedness in the grave / Did you hear that of our humanity / A sage came ... to help / He was going happily in the herb garden / He ran toward the cemetery / [His] people told him harshly / That we did not see a simpleton with the heart of a man."

The poems seem to be lamentations after the death of a person.


More Information

Inscriptions: With small parts restored
In lustre on white:
A Persian quatrain, followed by a qit'a (a form of poetry where each couplet rhymes differently) all in Persian, suggested readings and translations:

"The one who put his sash on, went towards the other side
As he was leaving, infirm
He said: Though the master went to the other side (i.e. died)
He never left the great cycle of time.

Learn that if tyranny is blind
It will show its nakedness in the grave
Did you hear that out of humanity
A sage came ..... to help
He was going happily in the herb-garden
He ran towards the cemetery
[His] people told him harshly
That we did not see a simpleton with the heart of a man"

Round the rim, reserved against lustre:

Repitition of possibily a phrase: Undeciphered

(Trans. Manijeh Bayani Wolpert, Dec. 1, 2007)


Label:

Two long-eared rabbits contemplate one another from either side of a large plant with composite, lotus-like blossoms. Below is a small pond teeming with nine well-fed fish. This dish belongs to an important class of Kashan lusterware that includes scenes of animals or people above fishponds. A similar lusterware bowl in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, depicts a gazelle by a fishpond and the bowl's inscription includes the name of the potter, "Muhammad from Nishapur, dwelling in Kashan," thus helping to link this lusterware production to Kashan.

These objects, usually dishes, boast complex compositions with extraordinarily detailed patterns achieved through di-rect and reserve painting. No surface is left untouched, and even the background comes alive with squiggles, curls, and dots. On this dish the interior details of the lotus-like blossoms and the dotted rabbits are particularly elaborate. Rabbits are noted in medieval Islamic sources for their agility and speed. In Islamic art their depiction was thought to bring prosperity, intelligence, and longevity to the owner of the object. Rabbits appear on medieval metalwork, textiles, and ceramics especially from Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and Iran. The rabbit-fishpond iconography is rare but does appear on contemporaneous star-shaped lusterware tiles.

Two bands of script encircle the dish's main decoration. The outer band possibly repeats a phrase, but this is undecipherable. The inner band, inscribed in luster on white, is a Persian quatrain followed by a qit'a (a form of poetry in which each couplet rhymes differently) all in Persian. These verses may be translated as "The one who put his sash on went toward the other side / As he was leaving, infirm / He said: Though the master went to the other side [he died] / He never left the great cycle of time" and "Learn that if tyranny is blind / It will show its nakedness in the grave / Did you hear that of our humanity / A sage came ... to help / He was going happily in the herb garden / He ran toward the cemetery / [His] people told him harshly / That we did not see a simpleton with the heart of a man."

The poems seem to be lamentations after the death of a person.


Inscriptions: With small parts restored
In lustre on white:
A Persian quatrain, followed by a qit'a (a form of poetry where each couplet rhymes differently) all in Persian, suggested readings and translations:

"The one who put his sash on, went towards the other side
As he was leaving, infirm
He said: Though the master went to the other side (i.e. died)
He never left the great cycle of time.

Learn that if tyranny is blind
It will show its nakedness in the grave
Did you hear that out of humanity
A sage came ..... to help
He was going happily in the herb-garden
He ran towards the cemetery
[His] people told him harshly
That we did not see a simpleton with the heart of a man"

Round the rim, reserved against lustre:

Repitition of possibily a phrase: Undeciphered

(Trans. Manijeh Bayani Wolpert, Dec. 1, 2007)