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Three monumental Kashan calligraphic lustre pottery tiles, Persia, 12th-13th century. Estimate 100,000150,000 GBP. Lot Sold 122,500 GBP. Photo: Sotheby’s

comprising three fritware tiles with a large calligraphic inscription in thuluth moulded in relief and another inscription painted in golden lustre above, decorated in underglaze cobalt blue on an overglaze lustre ground of spiralling foliate tendrils with turquoise highlights, set on custom mount. tiles: 41 by 82cm. mount: 84.4 by 10 by 7cm.

PROVENANCE: Holger Ferlov, Copenhagen, 1960s

NOTES: Inscriptions

The main text:
The right tile: The first word of the basmala.
The middle tile: Qur’an, chapter XVII (al-isra’), a few words from the beginning of verse 78.
The left tile: Qur’an, chapter LXXIII (al-insan), a single word from verse 20.

The narrow band:
The right tile: The basmala and Qur’an, chapter LXXI, (al-insan), a few words from the beginning of verse 1.
The middle tile: Qur’an, chapter LXXI, (al-insan), part of verse 2, verse 3 and the first word of verse 4.
The left tile: Qur’an, chapter LXXI (al-insan), part of verses 30 and 31.

These three tiles forming part of a frieze present a majestic thuluth inscription raised in relief and in lustre highlighted in cobalt blue with touches of turquoise which are consistent with the best quality Ilkhanid tilework of the twelfth/early thirteenth century. They can be compared to similar monumental compositions produced in Kashan between circa 1200 and 1340. Although of a large size, each tile comprises another register that curves slightly outwards and includes an additional smaller inscription painted in a honey-coloured glaze.

Similar tiles, with minor differences in design, but essentially composed of a large thuluth inscription on a lustre ground with turquoise highlights, are in a number of museum collections. Some of these include moulded frieze tiles with lustre calligraphic borders, bird motifs and further details. Notable examples are in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (inv. nos. 1481-1876, 1491-1876, 1494:18-1876), The Newark Museum, New Jersey (inv. no. 38.242), The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (inv. no. 50.46.458), The Museum of Islamic Art, Berlin (inv. no. I.5366). A fragment of a corner revetment now in the Louvre Museum, Paris, inv. no. AD 4973, is notable as it also features two slightly raised bands, one with an inscription and the other with a stylised braided pattern as in the present piece.

Sotheby’s. Arts of the Islamic World, Londres | 08 oct. 2014, 10:30 AM