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Arts of Asia

The MFAH collections of art from China, India, Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia reflect Houston’s diverse communities. Ancient and contemporary works are displayed together to create innovative juxtapositions.


Probably Kashan, Iran
Bowl with Seated Figure
Early 13th century
Frit body, painted in luster on an opaque white glaze

3 3/4 x 8 3/4 x 8 7/8 inches

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Gift of the Honorable and Mrs. Hushang Ansary, and museum purchase with funds provided by the Brown Foundation Accessions Endowment Fund and the Alice Pratt Brown Museum Fund

Arts of Asia

The class of pottery most characteristic of the Islamic world is luster ceramics. The shiny, metallic effect of its decoration was created by applying diluted metallic oxides to previously glazed earthenware that was then fired in oxygen-free kilns. The lack of oxygen generated a chemical reaction that fixed a thin metallic film on the objects surface. The decorative repertoire of luster ceramic vessels included excerpts of poetry, often of Sufi inspiration and figurative motifs, as shown in this example.

This bowl was probably produced in the city of Kashan, Iran. Kashan emerged as a prominent center of luster ceramics production in the 12th century and remained so well after the Mongol invasions occurred in the mid-13th century.