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Bowl with Kufic Inscription

MO 63.1864
Bowl with Kufic Inscription
Maker unknown
10th century, Samanid Dynasty
Nishapur, Iran
Clay, engobe, underglaze
Diameter: 12 1/4"
Bowl with low straight sides, made of red earthenware covered in white clay slip. The bowl is decorated with an inscription around the interior to the edge of the rim, in added pigment of dark brown and iron red, under clear glaze. The inscription is painted in floral Kufic, a variant of Kufic where leaves and flowers grow from the letters themselves. Nishapur was a major production center of this type of pottery.
This bowl was presented to President John F. Kennedy by Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, Shah of Iran (1941-1979), during his state visit to the White House on April 11, 1962. This dish is an example of the fine pottery of Nishapur in the province of Khurasan. From the ninth through the twelfth century the city was one of the most important ones of the Islamic world, a center of commerce, art and learning. Inscriptions in the Kufic alphabet, the earliest version of Arabic script used in the Koran, occur frequently on this type of pottery. Muslim potters absorbed and developed techniques that led to three types of pottery during the early Islamic period (9th-11th centuries): tin-glaze wares, slip-painted wares and lustre wares. This bowl is an example of slip-painted ware.
Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, Shah of Iran (1941-1979)
  • JFKPOF-119-008
  • JFKPOF-119-010
National Archives and Records Administration. Office of Presidential Libraries. John F. Kennedy Library. (04/01/1985- )
Donated to the United States
JFKSG-MO-1963-1864