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Collecting Old Continental Pottery
Henri Deux Ware, Etc.
Paris And Its Environs
Glazed Pottery Of France
Stoneware Of Germany
German And Other Guilds
SWEDEN, DENMARK, SWITZERLAND:
Stockholm, Rorstrand, and Marieberg
Delft: The Old Signs Of The Potters
Majolica And Luca Della Robia
Naples, Rimini, Monte Feltro, And Forli
Siena, Monte Lupo, And Pisa
Fabriano, Viterbo, Rome
Venice, Treviso, Bassano, Milan, Etc.
PERSIA AND DAMASCUS:
Persia And Damascus
Persian And Other Tiles
Rhodes, Asiatic Turkey, Etc.
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
When, in 1852, the first specimens of faience were brought to France, directly from Lindus, an ancient city in the Island of Rhodes, a reclassification of the Persian ware was necessary, for, though the Rhodian pottery greatly resembles the Persian, there are points of difference, and these led to the transference of many pieces which had been ascribed to Damascus or to Persia, to another class-that of Rhodes. This island in the Grecian Archipelago has recently been taken by Italy from Turkey, to which country it belonged since 1522, when the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem finally succumbed to the Turks.
It is said that in one of their numerous cruises against the infidels the galleys of the knights captured a large Turkish vessel named the Caraqae. This is open to doubt, for a a caraque was a Portuguese East Indiaman. We will let it pass, however, and return to the story, which told of the important booty and the number of prisoners, amongst whom were found some Persian potters, whose skill was utilised by the knights, who established at Lindus a pottery which was in existence until the middle of the eighteenth century. They chose Lindus because of the abundance of a particular sand, which was suitable for the manufacture of a fine, transparent enamel.
This tradition appears to be confirmed by facts, and it explains how it happened that, from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century, in a little island like Rhodes, we see an industry, foreign to the district, of Persian style, spring up and prosper all at once, The decoration in its origin is decidedly Persian, with flowers and leaves treated conventionally, with figures clad in long robes and wearing turbans, with animals, notably the lion and the antelope, and with inscriptions in the Persian language. It is worth while to quote one inscription from a dish in the Cluny Museum at Paris. Upon a white ground in the middle is painted a figure of a man in Persian costume and turban, wearing an open red tunic, blue hose, and red boots. He rests his right hand on his sash, and in his left he holds a double leaf, upon which are inscribed in Persian these words: " O, my God, what sufferings! What have I done, my God, for to be thus tormented and in exile ? When will there be an end of these woes ? When will the desire of my heart be fulfilled ? I have still, O my God, many things to tell Thee, but how wilt Thou hear me ? Ibrahim says it: let us see when his prayers will be heard." To the right and left of the figure are sprays of hyacinths and flowerets, and a border of leaves and marguerites encloses the design.
We can understand how Rhodian ships are depicted upon some of this ware, and how, too, coats-of-arms appear, for the slaves had to execute the orders of their masters. Yet the characteristic decoration of the early period remained Persian : flowers in sprays, roses, pinks, tulips, and hyacinths, with leaves, all naturally or conventionally treated, often in geometric designs, and sometimes upon an imbricated ground of blue or blue and green which puts us in mind of the later scale patterns.
When the exiles had passed away the Oriental influence ceased; not immediately, but gradually it was replaced by a new system of ornamentation, inspired by the tapestries and embroideries of France and Italy. The workmen of Latin origin reproduced the designs supplied to them from these sources by the dignitaries of the Order of St. John, under whose auspices great quantities of the ware was exported to the coasts of Asia Minor, where it is still known as Lindiaki. But when, in 1523, the Order left Rhodes for Malta, the manufacture ceased, the Latin inhabitants emigrated to Crete and Italy, and only common pottery was produced by their Turkish successors.
The old ware may be distinguished by its whitish-grey body, which is sandy, and by its hard glaze, which is silicious and of great durability. Both body and glaze are somewhat coarser than those of the wares from Persia and Damascus, though the decoration is more brilliant. This brilliance is due largely to the use of a beautiful red pigment, which was applied so thickly as to be easily felt by passing the fingers over the surface. Black, blue, green, and white are also found, the blue being of varying tint from cobalt to turquoise. Rhodian ware differs from Damascus ware. In the latter, a somewhat dull purple or lilac is used instead of the red. They resemble each other in the decoration of the reverse side of dishes and plates, employing double tulips and flowerets disposed symmetrically, with palmettes or with filets. Both again differ from the ancient ware of Kubatcha, which has a crackled glaze.
The old faience of Diarbekir, in Asiatic Turkey, introduces another element in the decoration of this ware, which was employed with complete success by the Chinese potters of the Sung dynasty, 960-1280. Hulagu Khan is said to have transported a hundred families of Chinese workmen, including potters, to Persia towards 1256. These practised their arts in Mongolia. They introduced the methods of the Far East to the Near East. Probably they are responsible for the crackle decoration on the faience, and possibly they produced those early pieces of porcelain painted with Arab inscriptions surrounded by arabesque ornament in the Persian style. However, the crackle is found on Diarbekir pieces with a greyish white ground, such as tiles, and on ware made at Kubatcha, and it was the evident result of considered experiment, the success of which led to its regular employment. The tiles of Diarbekir were of varying form, decorated with branches of full-blown pinks with green and aubergine buds, and with blue hyacinths. Sometimes at the centre a large blue leaf was depicted in volute form,
The Mohammedan interdict regarding the delineation of images was disregarded by some potteries more than others, by none more than Kubatcha, where, upon a ground of grey or white, covered with a crackled glaze, the plates, dishes, bowls, jugs, etc., were painted with bird and fabled creature, with women in full-length and half-length, and with all the brilliance of polychrome floral ornament in which natural and conventional forms were blended with a facility of handling most unusual. The wares are dealt with more fully elsewhere, but the tiles painted in colours have a character which, whilst resembling that of the ordinary faience, is distinctly charming. In a medallion of eight lobes with enamelled blue border is depicted the bust of a damsel holding a flower with three blooms, or holding a little cup in her left hand. Two classes of damsels are shown. Those with the flower wear a fringed turban headdress and a scale pattern mantle. Those with the cup have a kind of mantilla headdress and either a scale-pattern or flower-covered mantle. Their faces are yellow, either light or dark, with the outlines in black; and the high-lights, in white, are not level with the general surface, but slightly sunken. Enamel colours ; bistro, a warm brown, with red and yellow, blue and green, associated now and again with black, form an extensive palette, which has a remarkable effect in combination with the vitreous, silico-alkaline glaze, and with the crackle decoration. This silicious, crackled, glazed faience differs from that ascribed to Kutahia.
The history of Sicily is eventful. We will sketch it slightly in order to try and trace some influences which modified the manufacture. Arabs from Egypt about A.D. 651 began to invade the island, which they completely conquered about two centuries later. Then Arab fought Arab, with intervals of peace, until A.D. 1071, when the Norman Roger, who was called in to aid one party, seized the island and, as Count of Sicily, governed it. The Arabs had introduced embroidery and other of the arts: we may assume they made pottery.
Specimens of lustred and other wares, which were possibly made by the Arabs under Norman rule, have been brought from the island more probably later, when from 1282 to 1501 the house of Aragon gave to Sicily its rulers, until, at the latter date, Ferdinand of Castile and Aragon became its king. Attached henceforth to Spain or to Naples, lastly it became a part of the Italian kingdom in 1860.
It is said that the Moors exiled from Spain in 1610 came to Sicily and established potteries where the processes pursued at Malaga were applied with a measure of success inferior to that of the Spanish ware, but closely following it in forms and designs. Unfortunately the remains of the ancient kilns and the fragments of gold lustre ware which the local wiseacres discovered at one centre of manufacture, Galata Girone, were all destroyed before expert opinion could be brought to bear upon the important point as to the date when these wares were produced-by the early Arabs or the later Moors, which ? It may be that the future holds the solution of an interesting problem.
The examples which have been recognised as Sicilian differ essentially from all others except the Persian. The enamel is more compact, and the body is sandy-more like the sandy earthenware of the East than the closer-grained faience of Spain. Whilst, therefore, we are uncertain about the early wares of Sicily, and know nothing of the other variety with vermicular copper lustre decoration, perhaps on a stanniferous glaze, attributed to the fourteenth century, we do know that vases were made during the next century resembling the Persian in style, having a glassy glaze. Two illustrations are given by pieces in the Cluny Museum-one decorated with three gazelles, each carrying a curious plume on his head; and the other with four peacocks, all upon a ground of foliage, all outlined in black and coloured with blue under a glassy glaze. Other fifteenth-century pieces there have blue and brown designs on a white ground, or arabesques in copper lustre heightened with blue, whilst a blue vase covered with branches of foliage in copper lustre belongs to the sixteenth century.