ĀḠKAND, a special kind of pottery, so designated because of a village in southeast Azerbaijan of the same name, where most of it was said to have been found in the 1930s. So-called Āḡkand-ware belongs to the class of lead-glazed earthenware with designs engraved through a white slip in bold, linear outlines, colored with golden brown, yellow, a clear, fluctuating green, and sometimes manganese purple. Globular bowls with sharp-edged rims of metallic character are the predominant shape. The decoration consists of ornamental designs and of stumpy scrolls often enlivened with animals and seldom with representations of human beings (Plate XXXI). Although the attribution of this ware to Āḡkand is not based on any archeological or historical evidence, Azerbaijan is confirmed as its country of origin by new excavations. Similar ceramics were found in Taḵt-e Solaymān, in Basṭām, and above all in Oren-Kala in Russian Azerbaijan, where some pieces with signatures of potters came to light. Two bowls in Paris and Chicago have the signature Bū Ṭāleb, and other names have been found at Oren-Kala. Compared with other archeological finds of medieval Azerbaijan, pottery of the Āḡkand type strikes us as a product full of strength and artistic skill. It was made by local workshops in the time of the Eldigüzids (545-617/1150-1220). Pieces which were reputedly found at Ray show that the ware was exported to a limited extent. Nothing indicates that the production survived the Mongol invasions of Azerbaijan (618/1221), though similar pottery continued to be produced in the 7th/13th century in east Anatolia and north Syria.
M. Pézard, La céramique archaique de l’Islam et ses origines, Paris, 1920. Survey of Persian Art II, pp. 1526ff.
A. Lane, Early Islamic Pottery, New York, 1947, pp. 25f.
Oren-Kala: Materialy i issledovaniya po arkheologii SSSR 67, 1959, pp. 254-70, 335ff.
Basṭām: AMI N.S. 5, 1972, pl. II, 22, 6.
Taḵt-e Solaymān: Archäologischer Anzeiger 1975, p. l93
Originally Published: December 15, 1984
Last Updated: July 28, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 6, pp. 609-611
R. Schnyder, “ĀḠKAND,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/6, pp. 609-611; an updated version is available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/agkand-pottery-so-designated-after-the-village-of-that-name-in-southeastern-azerbaijan- (accessed on 16 March 2014).