Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History



  • Tile with an image of a phoenix, Ilkhanid period (1206–1353) late 13th century
    Iran, probably Takht–i Sulaiman
    Stonepaste; modeled, underglaze painted in blue and turquoise, luster painted on opaque white ground; H. 14 3/4 in. (37.5 cm), W. 14 1/4 in. (36.2 cm)
    Rogers Fund, 1912 (12.49.4)

    The upper register shows a pattern of alternating blossoms and buds within a scrolling vine, and the lower register has a floral scroll with a six-petaled rosette. The central register is occupied by a soaring phoenix with elaborate plumage. The background is filled with rounded cloud motifs that derive from the form of Chinese lobed clouds sometimes described as fungus-shaped or read as the magical fungus lingzhi.

    Tiles bearing the same motif as well as the dragon, and presumably produced from the same molds, decorated in both the luster and lajvardina techniques, were excavated at Takht-i Sulaiman. The phoenix and the dragon were popular subjects for imperial architectural decoration in China, and their use on tiles, although not traditionally common, became more widespread after the Mongol invasions, appearing on important buildings throughout the empire. It is likely that these associations caused the motifs to be seen as well suited to the decoration of Abakha Khan's palace in Iran.

    This work of art also appears on Connections: Birding

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    On view: Gallery 455
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  • Tile with an image of a phoenix, Ilkhanid period (1206–1353) late 13th century
    Iran, probably Takht-i Sulaiman
    Stonepaste; modeled, underglaze painted in blue and turquoise, luster painted on opaque white ground; H. 14 3/4 in. (37.5 cm), W. 14 1/4 in. (36.2 cm)
    Rogers Fund, 1912 (12.49.4)

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