A large Ilkhanid lustre pottery tile Fragment, Persia, Kashan, 13th Century. Photo Bonhams.
of concave form, moulded and decorated in cobalt-blue, turquoise and a yellowish gold lustre with a design of interlace tendrils and foliate vines, the tendrils terminating in trefoil sprays, the lustre ground with a repeat design of interlace consisting of circular foliate motifs, mounted; 39.5 x 38 cm. Estimate £10,000 – 15,000 (€13,000 – 19,000)
Notes: A pair of large tiles in the David Collection, Copenhagen, comprising the hood of a mihrab, has a similar design of bold cobalt vines in the upper level of relief and turquoise vines on the lower level over a lustre ground. This mihrab hood is published and illustrated in Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom, Cosmophilia: Islamic Art from the David Collection, Copenhagen, 2006, p. 139, cat. no. 64.
According to Blair and Bloom, Kashan potters in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries created large ensembles of such tiles painted in lustre, an expensive and demanding technique that had been developed at Basra in Iraq, passed to Egypt during the Fatimid period, from whence it was carried to Syria and then to Iran at the very end of the twelfth century. Tilemihrab ensembles might comprise as many as seventy to eighty individual tiles. Most of these individual tiles were relatively flat but some deeply concave hoods were fitted onto the walls. One such example is the one dated AH 707/1307 AD from the tomb at Nantaz and now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. A comparison with these examples suggests our large tile fragment would have come from the concave upper reaches of a large mihrab ensemble, or alternatively from the curve of an arch or doorway.
Bonhams. ISLAMIC AND INDIAN ART, 7 Oct 2014 10:30 BST. LONDON, NEW BOND STREET