From fighting to feasting

Figural buffware ceramics from tenth century Nishapur
Exhibition image

These vibrant polychrome buffware bowls are part of a group of distinctive ceramics that were fired in the kilns of tenth century Nishapur. A regional capital of the Samanid dynasty, the city of Nishapur was a centre of ceramics production in the ninth and tenth centuries. Though art historians and connoisseurs alike have long admired Samanid epgiraphic ceramics, these vibrant polychrome buffwares with their lively figural scenes were not known until they were unearthed in a series excavations undertaken in collaboration with the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the early 20th century. The emergence of these remarkable bowls from the excavations was a revelation that completely altered the established perception of Samanid ceramics production, and ultimately re-defined the role of figuration in early medieval Islamic ceramics writ large. The introduction of these splashy figural wares with lively images of hunting, feasting, and drinking into the canon revised a more severe conception of Islamic ceramics production in the period pre-dating the fritware revolution.  

 

This group of distinctive bowls stand out from the rest of the Nishapur production for several reasons. The buff-coloured clay fabric body of the vessels differs from the reddish clay body used to throw the other wares fired in the Nishapur kilns. Secondly, the figural decorative scheme of these particular wares with colour combinations of green, yellow, and black under a transparent glaze is unique to this type of buffware. The wares feature figures from the Persian epic cycle, such as hunters, dancers, and wine drinkers, which are not seen on contemporaneous ceramics. Finally, the inclusion of Christological imagery on a smattering of the surviving buffware bowls from Nishapur reflects the presence of a Nestorian Christian community in medieval Nishapur. The production of this distinctive type of buffware with powerful figural images from the classical Persian epic mode alongside Nestorian Christian iconography reflects a certain level of cultural hybridity emergent in the ceramics production of tenth century Nishapur. 

 This group of bowls will be on view at our gallery from Wednesday 7 December 2022. 

Sam Fogg, London
7 - 16 December 2022
Play
Pause

View more

Islam in Europe

Sam Fogg
3 November - 1 December 2023

Frieze Masters

Regents Park
11 - 15 October 2023

New Acquisitions London Art Week

Sam Fogg
30 June - 7 July 2023

TEFAF 2023

MECC Maastricht
9 - 19 March 2023

Master Drawings from the Middle Ages

Master Drawings from the Middle Ages brings together a group of vanishingly rare early European drawings all executed in a period spanning the years 1160 to 1520. Th…
Les Enluminures
20 January - 4 February 2023

Frieze Masters

The Regent's Park
12 - 16 October 2022

Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association

Saatchi Gallery
15 - 18 September 2022

Animals & Other Beasts

26 May - 8 July 2022

TEFAF 2022

MECC Maastricht
25 - 30 June 2022

The Medieval Body

Luhring Augustine
21 January - 12 March 2022

Get updates about exhibitions, art fairs and events

Shopping Bag

Close
No items found
Close
Close
Close
Search
Sam Fogg
Art of the Middle Ages