AMOL WARE, a kind of pottery apparently dating from the 6th-7th/12th-13th centuries (Plate XXXVI). Like other examples of incised, or sgraffito, pottery, Amol wares are made of reddish clay and covered with a white slip which, when dry, is deeply incised in a variety of decorative motifs; a transparent glaze applied over the decorated area sometimes adds a warm pale yellow hue, or else it may be tinted green with copper oxide. The characteristic features of Amol ware are the color scheme and the way the color is applied. Copper green is the only coloring pigment used against the white slip (which often looks pale amber due to the slight tint of the transparent lead glaze). Further, the copper green decoration—cross-hatching, zigzags, dots, or lobes which fill continuous bands of stylized animal shapes—retains a fairly unblurred line, possibly due to the addition of slip to the oxide to prevent the color from running under the lead glaze. The sgraffito is concentrated on the inside of the wares, although there may be some green coloring toward the outer rim of dishes, and likewise, there are often three large patches of green around the outer walls of bowls. Stylistically, the decoration on the Amol ware is distinguished by consistently asymmetrical compositions. The motifs themselves appear to be taken from textile patterns, in contrast to earlier wares from the area, clearly modeled on metalwork.
Amol wares are mainly fine bowls with flaring walls and straight rims and larger dishes with flattened, everted, or straight rims. A number of these vessels have been greatly restored, with the result that they feel much heavier than they once were, and their coarser base rings lack the sureness of potting that typifies better-preserved specimens. As slip-painted wares, the pieces attributed to Āmol fall between the sgraffito wares so characteristic of Azerbaijan production of the 6th-7th/12th-13th centuries and the remarkable products of slip painting in Khorasan and Transoxiana, which also ceased when the Il-khanids took over the Iranian plateau during the 7th/13th century.
Survey of Persian Art II, pp. 1537-42 and pls. 623-30.
G. Fehervari, Islamic Pottery (Barlow Collection), London, 1973, pp. 63-65, pls. 19-21.
E. Grube, Islamic Pottery (Keir Collection), London, 1976, pp. 88, 90, 98-102, nos. 62, 63.
A. Lane, Early Islamic Pottery, London, 1947, p. 26 and pls. 32A, 33A.
Originally Published: December 15, 1989
Last Updated: August 3, 2011
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Vol. I, Fasc. 9, p. 983