An Ilkhanid Luster-Painted Tile Natanz

An Ilkhanid Luster-Painted Tile Natanz Dedicated March-April 1308

An Ilkhanid Luster-Painted Tile Natanz Dedicated March-April 1308
An Ilkhanid Luster-Painted Tile Natanz Dedicated March-April 1308
AN ILKHANID LUSTER-PAINTED TILE, NATANZ, DEDICATED MARCH-APRIL 1308,

MEASUREMENTS
14 1/2 by 14 3/16in. 36.8 by 36cm.
DESCRIPTION
molded in relief and painted in cobalt-blue and brown luster with inscriptions against an intricate white-reserved ground of birds among scrolling lotus flowers and other blossoms, stylized Kufic in the lower border, the upper border decorated with alternating plants and two pairs of addorsed birds.
From the shrine of Abd al-Samad at Natanz, Iran
PROVENANCE
acquired prior to 1940 by the present owner's grandparents, probably in France or England

The Arabic word for "ginger"(zanjabiil)inscribed on the tile is the last word of Sura 76, verse17, in which the Quran describes the delights of paradise: "And they shall be made to drink therein a cup the admixture of which shall be ginger."

The present tile is part of a larger frieze of which about twenty other tiles are known, in both private and public collections around the world. Among them is one in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, which gives the dedication date (gift of Emile Rey, 1912; most recently published by Stefano Carboni and Tomoko Masuya, Persian Tiles, New York, 1993, p. 20, no. 25), and one in the Victoria and Albert Museum (see Sheila Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom, The Art and Architecture of Islam, 1250-1800, New Haven, 1994, p. 11, fig. 10).

The frieze originally decorated the tomb of the sufi shaykh Abd al-Samad at Natanz, built by the vizier Zaynal-Din and completed in the spring of 1308. Part of a larger religious complex, "the tomb is a chamber approximately six meter square erected on the site of Abdal-Samad's residence across a lane from the mosque. As at Bastan the shape is traditional, but the interior is decorated with the finest fittings Zayn al-Din could procure. The walls were all revetted with a (...) dado of luster tiles (...) often recognizable by a frieze of paired birds whose heads were later defaced by some zealous iconoclast (S. Blair - J. Bloom, op. cit.,p. 10; see also the more detailed study by Sheila Blair, The Ilkhanid Shrine Complex at Natanz, Iran, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1986, pp. 50, 64, and pl.53)." The inscription on the frieze may have run above six rows of star and cross tiles.
An Ilkhanid Luster-Painted Tile Natanz Dedicated March-April 1308
The frieze originally decorated the tomb of the sufi shaykh Abd al-Samad at Natanz