• Syria, Raqqa, late 12th century
  • Lustre painted ceramic
  • Inv. 416
  • Eastern Islamic Art

Vase with cover

Syria, Raqqa, late 12th century

The vase with cover is painted with blue medallions under a transparent glaze and decorated with lustre painting. It is an exceptional piece for two reasons: vases with this spherical form are rare, spherical vases with their covers are rarer still. Horizontally divided sections on the body are decorated with inscriptions and pseudo-inscriptions in florid Kufic script (angular) on a white ground. The inscriptions are interrupted by circular medallions containing floral motifs and scrolls. The cover has the same decorative scheme as the body.

In decorative terms, this piece has features that appear in other pieces from Raqqa, where inscriptions and pseudo-inscriptions combine with floral decorations. The dark brown of the lustre painting is also typical of this ceramic-producing centre, which did not survive the Mongol invasions in 1259.


Acquired by Calouste Gulbenkian from Kiran Kelekian on December 27th, 1907.

H. 26 cm; Diam. 27,7 cm
London 1976

The Arts of Islam, exhibition catalogue, The Arts Council of Great Britain, London (Hayward Gallery), 1976, no. 303

Mota 1988

Maria Manuela Mota – Louças Seljúcidas, Lisbon, 1988, p. 62-63, no. 12, colourpl. (with French text)

Santiago de Compostela 2000

Memorias do Imperio Árabe, exhibition catalogue, Santiago de Compostela (Auditorio de Galicia), 2000, p. 108-109, no. 72, colourpl.

Lisbon 2001

Calouste Gulbenkian Museum – Album, Lisbon, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, 2001, p. 32, no. 15, colourpl.

Paris 2002

L’Orient de Saladin. L’art des Ayyoubides, exhibition catalogue, Paris (Institut du Monde Arabe), 2002, p. 174-175, no. 171, colourpl.