Base of a Bowl Decorated with Two Fish

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Base of a bowl decorated with two fish 14th century, Fustat (medieval Cairo), Egypt Glazed ceramic Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, 1968.3.52

Base of a bowl decorated with two fish

The two small fish at the bottom of this glazed ceramic bowl can be considered a variant of the so-called fishpond motif. The presence of aquatic motifs on the surface of bowls and cups made of ceramic, metal, and glass added a playful commentary on the function of these types of vessels. With its fish molded in relief and greenish glaze, this fragment clearly mimics Chinese celadon wares. Chinese ceramics were imported into the Islamic world as early as the 9th century. From then on, Muslim ceramicists, including those active in medieval Cairo, responded to these luxury imports by creating local imitations of Chinese prototypes.

Bibliography: Grube 1976, 278–281, cat. nos. 223–224; Gompertz 1958; Baer 1998, 104–105; 1968; Crowe 1975–1977, 264–272; 1976; Gyllensvard 1973; Scanlon 1984, 116–117; 1970b, 88; and Whitehouse 1973.

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