• Persia, Kashan, late 13th century, early 14th century
  • Moulded ceramic, decoration with lustre painting
  • Inv. 1567

Prayer niche

This plaque in moulded pottery, decorated in lustre reflexes, was produced in Kashan, a Persian city, famous at that time for producing glazed tiles. A decorative composition centred by a prayer niche, mihrab, from which hangs a lamp a symbol of the divine illumination of Islam.

Other important elements inscribed on the plaque are quotations from the Koran highlighted in blue. The text of the outer frame (Sura 110) indicates that this piece was made for a tomb, probably for Mohamed Uljaitu, a Mongol converted to Islam. Inside the arch, the text from the Koran (Sura 42:30), refers to the promise of Paradise.

The main function of these prayer niches that cover the walls of religious edifices was to guide the faithful to face Mecca during prayers, in accordance with Muslim ritual.

Spitzer Collection; Michel Manzi Collection. Acquired by Calouste Gulbenkian through Stora, at the sale of the Manzi Collection, Paris, March 1919 (lot 182).

Goffen 1995

Rona Goffen (ed.), Museums Discovered. The Calouste Gulbenkian Museum. Fort Lauderdale, Florida: Woodbine Books, 1995, p. 164–5.

Lisbon 2001

Calouste Gulbenkian Museum. Lisbon: Calouste GulbenkianMuseum, 2001, p. 33, cat. 16.

Updated on 22 april 2022

Cookies settings

Cookies Selection

The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation uses cookies to improve your browsing experience, security, and its website performance. The Foundation may also use cookies to share information on social media and to display messages and advertisements personalised to your interests, both on our website and in others.