9th Century Iraq Clay Ceramic

9th century Iraqi clay ceramicEditEdit

This is a clay ceramic bowl, indentified as a part of the Lustreware trend that occurred in Islamic art from the 7th to 9th centuries.[1] This clay ceramic was found in Iraq and dates back to the 9th century. It currently resides in the Richelieu wing, room 2 in the Louvre[2] Museum in Paris, France.[3] It is 6.3 centimeters tall and 22.3 centimeters wide. 

Technical EvaluationEditEdit

To make this clay ceramic, craftsmen first had to paint the clay mold with pigmant colorants and place it into the fire.[4] Then usually a white tin-opacified lead glaze is put on and then it is placed in the fire again[5] . Finally, precious metals such as copper and silver[6] are used to create the lustre glaze.[7] Once the mold is glazed, its final firing takes place in a kiln[8] reserve at 550 degrees Celcius[9] . Such a high temperature reduced the atmosphere allowing the glaze to become fluid.[10] This technology of polychrome ceramic's was first used in Iraq during the 8th century. Most of this type of polychrome [11] pottery was found in Samarra, Iraq[12] . This clay ceramic bowl previously belonged to Art dealer, Charles Vignier[13] but was purchased by the Louvre museum in 1930.[14]

Local Historical ContextEditEdit

9th century Iraq was in the midst of the mature fuedal period[15] where the majority of the population was the peasentry.[16] There was also a class and social struggle between the ruling Sunni muslims and the shi'i muslims of the towns and villages[17] . The Abbasid Caliphate [18[19] was the ruling dynasty of the Islamic world and in 836 moved the capital from Baghdad to Samarra[20] . The Zanj rebellion occurred in 869[21] . This type of ceramic was made by a group of artisan peasants known as Muslim potters[22] . Most artisans during the 9th century lived in the city and sold their wares in the streets or on the roads into town with caravans.[23] Clay ceramics like this one were commissioned by Ahmad ibn Tulun, an Abbasid governor and later ruler of Egypt, Palestine, and Syria, while in Egypt to mirror the pottery he had seen while he was in Samarra.[24]  Lustrewares have been found in palaces at Samarra indicating that they are a sign of wealth[25] . This ceramic was a technological marval and the first of it's kind in the 9th century.[26]

World Historical SignificanceEditEdit

Ceramics in 9th century Iraq set in motion a trend which would lead to more trade with the islamic world[27] . This is the first time a polychrome glaze was used in pottery and a new technology was discovered[28] . Though similar to Chinese pottery this new breed would set the bar for nations like Iran and Egypt to follow, and leave it's mark on the ceramic and Islamic world. [29]


Popovic, Alexander "REVOLT OF AFRICAN SLAVES IN IRAQ IN THE 3RD 9th CENTURY"; 1/ 1/1999, pNoPg., 0p (33850292)

Shaban, M.A. , The Abbasid Revolution (1970); H. Kennedy, The Early Abbasid Caliphate (1981). (39041531)

Pradell, T., Molera, J., Smith, A. D., Tite, M. S., "The invention of Lustre: Iraq 9th and 10th century AD" Journal of Archeological Science, Volume 35, Issue 5, May 2008, Pages 1201-1215 

Harris, Johnathan, "Best of Enemies", History Today, Feb2013, Vol. 63, Issue 2 (00182753)

Jenkins, Marilyn, "Islamic Pottery: A Brief History", The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, Vol. 1 - New Series Vol. 67(00261521)

Frierman, Jay D., Asaro, Frank, Michel, Helen V., "The Provanence of Early Islamic Lustre Wares", Ars Orientalis,  (05711371)

Gabashvili, Valerian, " Social Movements in Near Easter Cities from the 9th to the 13th Century", Journal of Persianate Studies I, (2008), 123-147

Tabbagh, Claire, "Orient Islamique, 7e-9e siecle", Collections Numeriques, Musee du Louvre, 2006