Fragmentary Star Tile with Lovers

Unidentified Artist13th century - 14th century

Harvard Art Museums

Harvard Art Museums

This fragmentary tile, reassembled from four pieces, depicts a narrative scene closely related to those in contemporary and later manuscript paintings.Through an archway, a couple is shown in bed under a patterned cover. A tall candle in a plaited metal candlestick illuminates the interior of the room, and a similarly ornamented ewer appears further to the right. The partially visible bow and arrows likely belong to the man and indicate his princely activities. The fish at the bottom of the scene and the flowers sprouting above the couple create a dreamlike ambience. A figure, likely a servant, stands at left, perhaps outside the room. Bordering the scene, a Persian inscription, reserved in white on a blue ground, is partially legible. Starting at the break on the left, it reads,
. . . wings were broken.
. . . from the prince, felicity came to me.
Even if fate is not auspicious, give in to
your destiny.
Eight-pointed star tiles like this one were combined with other tiles of cruciform shape to create shimmering revetments for palaces and religious buildings. Although figural tiles were used in both secular and religious contexts, the intimate nature of the scene depicted here would have made this tile more appropriate for a palace interior.

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  • Title: Fragmentary Star Tile with Lovers
  • Creator: Unidentified Artist
  • Date: 13th century - 14th century
  • Technique: Lusterware
  • Physical Dimensions: w21.0 x h23.2 cm
  • Period: Ilkhanid period
  • Credit Line: Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art
  • Creation Place: Kashan/Iran/Middle East
  • Type: Architectural Elements
  • External Link: Harvard Art Museums
  • Medium: Fritware painted with blue (cobalt) and luster (copper and silver) over white lead alkali glaze opacified with tin