Luster Wall Tile with a Couple, 1260-1300, Fritware with luster-painted design
Iran, Kashan, Ilkhanid Period , Gift of the John Huntington Art and Polytechnic Trust by exchange.
The city of Kashan was so renowned for producing fine pottery and wall tiles that the Iranian word for tile, kashi, was taken from it. The design of this tile --- a couple with a wine beaker surrounded by verses of Iranian love poetry --- indicates that it was originally part of wall decoration. Architectural star-shaped tiles usually alternated with cross-shaped tiles in order to adorn walls.
On view in the recently reopened Islamic galleries, visitors should take note that the object is a hand-drawn, hand-painted design. The invention of glistening luster pottery in ninth century Iraq is the most important Islamic contribution to world ceramics. Luster transforms base materials into expensive luxury ware. Luster potters migrated to the city of Kashan in Iran where luster ware reached its greatest height during the 1170s until about 1220.