Small Bowl with Peacock

Unidentified Artist10th century

Harvard Art Museums

Harvard Art Museums
Cambridge, United States

A prominent bird facing left dominates the interior of this small bowl. The artist has whimsically concocted a creature with a trilobed crest, a cere (protrusion above the bill), rings of multicolored feathers around the neck and breast, and a yellow wing. The bird’s salient feature, however, is a fan-shaped tail, which above all else suggests that it is a peacock. There is a single, legible inscription in Syriac meaning “eye” or “fount” between the bird’s back and tail. On the upper walls beneath the rim, a band of scrolling triangular leaves is bordered by black lines.
No slip is detectable over the light buff ceramic body of the bowl. Except for its flat, slightly concave base, which is only partially glazed, it appears to have been covered in a clear glaze. Its condition is difficult to assess, because much of the interior surface is coated with a modern varnish. It is clearly fragmentary, reassembled from numerous small pieces, and has considerable overpainting along the rim, the scrolling band, and the lower body of the peacock.


  • Title: Small Bowl with Peacock
  • Creator: Unidentified Artist
  • Date: 10th century
  • Technique: Underglazed, painted
  • Physical Dimensions: h6.7 x d16.2 cm
  • Period: Samanid period
  • Credit Line: Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, The Norma Jean Calderwood Collection of Islamic Art
  • Creation Place: Nishapur/Iran/Middle East
  • Type: Vessels
  • External Link: Harvard Art Museums
  • Medium: Buff-colored earthenware painted with black (manganese), yellow (lead-tin), and green (copper) under clear lead glaze

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