Bowl with lion, Seljuq period (1040–1196), early 13th century
Attributed to Iran, Kashan
Stonepaste; overglaze luster–painted on opaque white glaze; H. 4 1/8 in. (10.5 cm), Diam. of rim 8 3/4 in. (22.2 cm)
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Lewis Balamuth, 1968 (68.215.10)
Leo (al-asad, "the lion") is a symbol of power and strength. Its reigning planet is the Sun, which is shown here as a circular disk against which the whimsically spotted lion is set. The bowl was made in Kashan, in central Iran, where the technology for making luster-glazed ceramics was introduced in the early twelfth century, with the arrival of the potters from Egypt who carried the secret knowledge for creating this decorative effect.
Said the Wise Abu Macshar: "Those who are born in this decade have a bright complexion with a tendency to redness. They have a harmonious build, broad shoulders, and are corpulent. Their voice is loud and they are talkative. They quarrel and know how to trick their listeners. They fear what they cannot see. They have marks on their head, knees, and feet. Allah knows more..."