Fragment of a Bowl with a Horse and Rider

Date: 1200–1268

Geography: Made in Port Saint Symeon (now al-Mina/Samandag,Turkey)

Culture: Byzantine

Medium: Terracotta with green glaze over slip, decorated in sgraffito

Dimensions: Overall: 6 3/4 x 1/2 x 10 5/8 x 3 3/8 in. (17.2 x 1.3 x 27 x 8.5 cm)
Proposed Diameter for complete bowl: 11 5/8 in. (29.5 cm)

Classification: Ceramics

Credit Line: Purchase, Anonymous Gift, 1984

Accession Number: 1984.181


Inexpensive earthenware vessels, generally meant for household use or export, were produced in many centers of the Byzantine world. These works were quickly thrown on the potter's wheel, partially covered with a thin layer of slip, and then coated on the interior with a transparent glaze. Decoration was often worked by the sgraffito method, in which a design is quickly drawn or scraped through the layer of slip with a sharp metal tool.

When intact, this bowl may have shown a rider with a falcon. In his left hand the rider holds what appears to be a falconer's lure; his extended right hand perhaps cradled the bird. Images such as these were intended to evoke the hunt, a popular pastime for members of the imperial court (and regarded as good practice for military action).