Fragmentary plate with engraved designs, 9th century
Attributed to Syria or Iraq; found at Iran, Nishapur, Tepe Madrasa, Well in annex of W4, low level below gatch
Glass, blue; blown, applied trail, scratch–engraved; H. 5/8 in. (1.5 cm), Diam. 11 in. (28 cm)
Rogers Fund, 1940 (40.170.131)
The striking blue color of this plate was achieved by adding cobalt to the glass fabric, and its surface has been engraved with various patterns arranged in concentric registers around a central roundel. The circular hole at the center indicates the place where a foot was once attached. This plate is important evidence of the active glass trade from west to east during the ninth and tenth centuries. Probably made in Syria, it was imported to Nishapur, where it was eventually found in the prosperous Tepe Madrasa section of the city. But the fact that six dishes of this type were found in the crypt of the Famen Temple in China demonstrates the far eastern reaches of the trade routes that passed through Nishapur. Furthermore, the evidence from this temple, whose crypt was sealed in 874, provides an ante quem date for our plate.