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Collecting Pottery:
Collecting Old Continental Pottery

Henri Deux Ware, Etc.
Palissy Ware
Paris And Its Environs
Glazed Pottery Of France

Stoneware Of Germany
German And Other Guilds

Stockholm, Rorstrand, and Marieberg

Delft: The Old Signs Of The Potters

Majolica And Luca Della Robia
Castel Durante
Naples, Rimini, Monte Feltro, And Forli
Siena, Monte Lupo, And Pisa
Fabriano, Viterbo, Rome
Venice, Treviso, Bassano, Milan, Etc.

Persia And Damascus
Persian And Other Tiles
Rhodes, Asiatic Turkey, Etc.

Hispano-Moresque Ware

Pottery - Persia And Damascus

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

The discovery of glass has always been assigned to Phoenicia, though we may not believe Theophrastus, the old Greek philosopher, 382-287 B.C. when he states that some merchants who were cooking on some lumps of soda or natron, near the mouth of the River Belus, just north of Mount Carmel, in that country, observed that a hard and vitreous substance was formed where the fused natron ran into the sand. We know that a fixed alkali, soda or potash, and silica heated to a red heat will combine and produce glass, and that alumina, lime, magnesia, etc., may enter into combination with the silica; but the result in both cases is colourless, or what is ordinarily called white glass. But if to these substances metallic oxides, or metals in a finely divided state, are added, even in minute quantities, the result is coloured glass. It is necessary, perhaps, to say this about glass because all those wares now known as Persian, Damascus, Rhodian, and Anatolian were glass-glazed, not lead-glazed, and dated from an early period.

Sir John Chardin lived in Persia from 1664 to 1681, and to him we owe the information that the finest pottery of that country was then made at Karamania, at Kirman, and Yezd ; also at Shiraz, the capital of Persidia, and Meshid in Bactriana. Whatever this pottery was we are not told definitely. Probably we should be right in assuming that it resembled the modern ware, composed of much silicious sand, and some aluminous clay with a small quantity of alkali, the special use of which was to fix the glassy-glaze. The old designs were painted upon the tiles, plates, or other utensils, after they had been fired to the biscuit state. Then, the vitreous glaze being applied, the final firing followed. The length and strength of the process affected the translucency of the body, which after a hard exposure to great heat assumed a semiporcellaneous state, quite different from that ware which had only been subjected to a moderate temperature. The variations of the paste range from a coarse, sandy earthenware resembling sandstone to this semi-porcelain.

The decorative elements are found in flowers, treated conventionally for the most part, and in godroons and lozenge work, diapers, and scale-work, in infinite variety. The hyacinth, the tulip, the pink with a long stalk, the rose, the lily, and the poppy are amongst the flowers thus employed, whilst palms and palmettes, with sprays of leaves, are associated with them. The illustrations will show that in the old Damascus ware the painters carefully obeyed the positive and negative precepts of the Koran, allowing certain things, but forbidding the representation of animated beings. The later artists disregarded the Prophet's commands, seemingly, at first, by drawing animals and birds of purely imaginative forms and then proceeding to depict the animals and scenes with which they were familiar. Vultures, hawks, finches, hares and rabbits, deer and dogs, as well as horses, appear in scenes of the chase, hunting, and hawking.

The most striking colour, one of the most remarkable of any in ancient or modern ceramic art, is the exquisite turquoise blue, which, derived from an oxide of copper, is far more luminous and effective than the blues from cobalt, light and dark, which are often used with it in a scheme designed only for decorative effect. This is assisted by reserving certain parts in white, and by the adoption of grounds of different colours; for, besides the white ground, there are grey and blue grounds. Some ornament in blue will be found on a white ground or in white on a blue ground, or again, blue such as turquoise blue on a dark blue ground. In old Damascus ware the turquoise blue combines with another colour, subdued in tone, which offers a contrast, harmonious and effective in giving the blue its full value. This is aubergine or manganese purple, which is scarcely a purple or a lilac. Thus an open flower in pure turquoise blue, stippled with black, might show some aubergine petals, or another flower would be coloured with dark blue, aubergine, and turquoise blue. A vivid green is found upon some Persian ware, but the Damascus green is greyer-nearer the tone known as sage-green. The striking red is noted farther on.

The excavations which have been carried out in Persia have revealed the fact that the old potters were familiar with the use of lustre of different hues, one of the few things apparently which the Chinese potter did employ, even if he knew that metallic lustre was a serviceable medium for decorative purposes. Fortnum describes this Persian ware as follows: " Generally highly baked, and sometimes semitransparent. Paste, fine and rather thin, decorated with ruby, brown and copper lustre, on dark blue and creamy white ground." The characteristic example from his book is unfortunately imperfect, but it may be seen in the Kensington collection, with many other examples of plates, etc., and tiles which will be dealt with presently. The Damascus plates often have slightly godrooned edges-as the French say, legerement f estonsaes ; but in some specimens of Rhodes ware a similar treatment of the outer edge is not unknown, and in both places the potter supplied other vessels for the home, bottles or flasks, jugs and bowls, and they, too, have come down to us from far-off days.

From the catalogue of the Loan Exhibition at the Museum at South Kensington in 1862, further particulars regarding the colours employed by the potters of the Near East are derived. Here is the list :

Blue.-A splendid deep-toned lapis-lazuli colour, susceptible of various modifications of tint. Probably derived from cobalt.

Turquoise.-A brilliant greenish turquoise blue, doubtless from copper.

Green.-A bright, vivid emerald green. The base copper.

Red.-An exquisitely beautiful pigment, quite peculiar to Persian ware, of a vivid dark orange tone, semitransparent in texture.

Orange or bug.-An original and most beautiful pigment.

Purple or mulberry colour.-Doubtless from manganese.

Black.-A brilliant, pure, opaque black enamel.

The above are doubtless primary or simple enamels. Rich olive-green of various tints was perhaps from admixture of the copper-green and mulberry tints. Various tints of purplish slate colour or indigo were perhaps also from admixture of the lapis blue and manganese purple.

With respect to the lustres the information is no less interesting.

Rich gold-coloured lustre.

Dark copper colouy, inclining to crimson, intermediate in tint betwixt the copper-coloured lustre of the HispanoMoresque potteries and the ruby lustre of Maestro Giorgio ; this colour occasionally assumes a brownish, semi-opaque tint, probably by admixture with the other lustres.

A Pale cupreous or brassy lustre, probably the same as that of the ordinary Hispano-Moresque wares.

For comparison, the lustres of Maestro Giorgio follow: Ruby, a brilliant, full crimson tint, with a metallic iridescence; a pulsating ruby, unlike any other colour. Gold, also iridescent, producing mother-of-pearl effectsrnadrepeyla lustre.

The old lustres may be found associated with a glass-glazed or silicious pottery, as that of the Near East, the class usually called Persian, and with tin-glazed wares such as those known as Hispano-Moresque and majolica.

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