Central Asia, central Afghanistan, Jam in Ghur province, Ghurid Dynasty, ca. 12th to 13th century CE. A graceful ceramic vessel from a little known culture. It features a wide, near-spherical body atop a narrow disc foot and a wide mouth with slightly rolled rim and no neck. The entire exterior surface of the vessel from just above the foot is covered in a profusion of molded relief decoration: abstract and floral motifs, wavy lines, triangles, and diamond-shaped outlines. The surface is highly decorated but never busy, instead presenting an ornate appearance. Size: 8.75" W x 7.3" H (22.2 cm x 18.5 cm)
Afghanistan has had little modern archaeological research and as a result its history remains sadly unexplored - for example, most of the knowledge about the country's medieval ceramics is from the 1950s and 1960s. However, the country clearly has a rich heritage. The area today known as Jam was once Firuzkuh, the summer capital of the Ghurid sultanate, destroyed by the Mongols around 1222-1223 CE and rediscovered by international researchers because of its huge minaret in 1957. A wide profusion of different style vessels seem to have been made in medieval Jam during the short Ghurid Dynasty, which enjoyed brief success in the 12th century before collapsing after the death of its most charismatic rulers; indeed, when the Mongols destroyed it, it seems to have already been a city in decline. The pottery made there is all the more remarkable for the brief window in which it was made. This example, clearly inspired by contemporary Iranian ceramics, demonstrates the cosmopolitan nature of medieval Afghanistan.
Provenance: private California, USA collection, by descent, moved from Germany in 1997, originally collected in the 1970s in Hamburg, Germany
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Two stabilized fractures from rim, with some small losses from the rim and foot (though it stands easily despite). Otherwise in fine condition with great preservation of motifs and light deposits on surface.