distinguished, except in some measure those of Damascus and Kutaia. A small jug in the Godman Collection has an Armenian inscription stating that it was made by “Abraham of Kutaia” in the 16th century. A few fine bowls and vases, painted in a beautiful blue with Persian arabesques and rosette scrolls, recalling Chinese porcelains of the Ming dynasty, but of very characteristic appearance, are also attributed to this place; and later, in the 18th and up to the end of the 19th century, an inferior ware was largely manufactured here. This late ware usually takes the form of small objects—plates, cups, jugs, egg-shaped ornaments, &c.—with a thin, well-potted, white body and slight patterns of radiating leaves, scale diapers, &c., in blue, black and yellow. Turkish pottery was at its best in the 16th and the early part of the 17th century, and though good tile work of later date exists, the general pottery deteriorated before the 18th century. An inferior ware of poor colour is still produced in Turkey, Persia and Syria, and some attempt has been made of late to revive the old lustre decoration, but the results are not likely to be mistaken for those of old times.
Collections.—The Victoria and Albert Museum contains the finest collection of the medieval pottery of the nearer East—the British Museum collection, though much smaller, has some magnificent examples. The Cluny Museum in Paris has a never-to-be-forgotten collection of Turkish pottery, especially plates and dishes. The museums of the Louvre and of Sèvres have also many beautiful examples. Berlin, Frankfort and other German towns have collections, but much smaller in extent. Private collectors in England and France own many fine specimens, and mention may be made particularly of those owned by Mr Ducane Godman and Mr George Salting.
Literature.—Fortnum, Majolica (1896) (also in South Kensington Museum Handbook); Falke, Majolica (Berlin, 1896); Fouquet, Contributions a l’étude de la céramique orientale (Cairo, 1900); Karabacek, “Zur muslimischen Keramik,” in Monatsschrift fur den Orient (1884); Lane-Poole, Art of the Saracens in Egypt (1886); Migeon, Manuel de l’art musulman, vol. ii. (1907); Sarre, Persische Keramik; and Jahrbuch der koniglichen preussichen Kunstsammlung (1905), part ii.; H. Wallis, The Godman Collection (1) Lustred Vases (London, 1891); (2) The Tenth Century Lustred Wall-tiles (1894); Notes on some Early Persian Lustre Vases (1885); Egyptian Ceramic Art (1898).
With the doings of the Moslem potters of the countries round the eastern Mediterranean fresh in our minds, it is interesting to follow the westward trend of the Moslem conquests, and see how in their wake there also sprung up in Spain a ware of high distinction and beauty. The Iberian peninsula had been the scene of pottery-making from prehistoric times—a red unglazed ware was made before the dawn of civilization as finely finished as that found in the Nile valley by Flinders Petrie (see Egypt: Art and Archaeology), and the Romans had one of their great provincial pottery centres at Saguntum; but it was only when a great part of Spain lay under Mussulman rule that artistic and distinctive pottery was produced. What is by no means clear is how it came to pass that when the traditional methods, learnt by the Arabs in Egypt and Syria, were carried westward they should have undergone such a radical change. Oxide of tin, the opacifying and whitening material in glazes par excellence, was certainly known and used in the East from at least the 6th century B.C.; the ancient wares are coated with a covering of white tin-enamel to hide the buff or reddish-coloured clay, and it was similarly used elsewhere; but its use was sporadic and not general in those countries, where we find instead a consistent development of the pottery made with a white slip-coating and a clear alkaline glaze. Perhaps it was that at this period tin was almost as costly as gold, and it was only when potters with an oriental training brought their skill to Spain, where tin abounded, that the relative cheapness of the material led them to employ it, so far as is known, exclusively. (There is a wide distinction between the tin-enamelled and the slip-faced wares, glazed with an alkaline glaze. In the latter, the more oriental type, the slip-coating is of fine white clay and sand, and this is finished with a transparent alkaline glaze containing little or no lead: in the former there is no need of a coating of slip, for the addition of oxide of tin to a glaze rich in lead gives a dense coating of white enamel, opaque enough to disguise the color of the clay beneath.) Such colours as were used for painted patterns were painted over this enamel coating before it was fired, so that they became perfectly incorporated with it, and then this ground furnished a splendid medium for the development of those thin iridescent metallic films that we call “lustres.” The knowledge of this lustre process had been brought from the East also, where it was used on another ground, and with the growing use of lustre pigments containing copper as well as silver—until the red, strongly metallic copper lustre almost ousted the quieter silver lustres—we get the simple technique of one of the most distinctive kinds of pottery known.
|Fig. 43.—Hispano-Moorish Plate, painted in blue and copper lustre.|
Briefly, the wares were “thrown” upon the wheel or “pressed” on modelled forms—handles, ribs and dots of clay, or strongly incised patterns were often added by hand—and they were then fired a first time. A coating of the tin-enamel (rich in lead as well as tin) was applied, and on this coating designs were painted in cobalt and manganese; sometimes these colours were only used as masses to break up the background. Then the second firing took place and the piece came from the firing all shining and white, except where the blue or brownish purple had been painted (see fig. 43). The lustre pigments, a mixture of sulphide of copper or sulphide of silver, or both with red ochre or other earth, was then painted over the glazed surface with vinegar as a medium. The repainted piece was fired a third time to a dull red heat, and smoked with the smoke from the wood used in firing, and when cold the loosely adherent ochre and metallic ash left were washed off, leaving the iridescent films in all their beauty.
The technical practices of the Spanish potters and the composition of the lustre pigments are given in Cocks’s account of the processes followed at Muel (Aragon) in 1585. The Manises receipt of 1785 gives:—copper 3 oz., red ochre 12 oz., silver 1 peseta piece, sulphur 3 oz., vinegar 1 qt. and the ashes scraped off the pots after lustring 36 oz. Interesting documents have recently been published concerning the works executed by the “Saracen,” John of Valencia, at Poitiers in 1384, and it is certain, from the list of materials supplied to him, that he made there tiles that were enamelled and lustred.
The earliest record of lustred pottery in Spain is the geographer Edrisi’s mention of the manufacture of “golden ware” then carried on at Calatayud in Aragon in 1154. Ibn Sa‛id (1214–1286)
- See Riaño, Spanish Arts, Victoria and Albert Museum Handbook, pp. 149-151; and Sobre la manera de fabricar la antigua loza dorado de Manises (1878).