Name of Object:

Ataifor (bowl)

Location:

Madrid, Spain

Holding Museum:

National Archaeological Museum

About National Archaeological Museum, Madrid

Date of Object:

Hegira 324–66 / AD 936–76

Museum Inventory Number:

63031

Material(s) / Technique(s):

Ceramics; wheel-thrown, fired, green and manganese, glazed.

Dimensions:

Height 7 cm, diameter 22 cm

Period / Dynasty

Umayyads of al-Andalus, Caliphate period

Provenance:

Córdoba, Spain.

Description:

This ataifor, with a ring in the base and curved sides, is made of yellowish material and coated with a white glaze. The inside is decorated in green and manganese. The decorative theme is made up of a large circular border running round the edge of the plate in which it is possible to see the remains of a kufic inscription with the phrase ‘al-Mulk’ (power). The decoration is finished with two narrower strips that cross in the centre, with markings that appear to be a simplification of kufic writing but that are in fact meaningless. The decorative technique used, epigraphic motifs in copper green and manganese black visible through the white glaze, produces an impressive chromatic effect.
Madinat al-Zahra was the most important centre for the production and distribution of ceramics glazed and decorated in green and manganese during the Caliphate. Ornamentally, the clarity of the design and the austerity of the compositions, with extensive areas of the base undecorated, differentiates them from other works produced at the same time in al-Andalus.
The function of this type of ceramic is still unclear, but what is clear is that production at Madinat al-Zahra constituted a fundamental technological advance. The use of copper and manganese oxides in the decoration and the glazing, which made the containers waterproof and stopped liquids soaking the earthenware, created a type of special crockery which was considered a luxury.

View Short Description

Found in an archaeological dig at the palatine city of Madinat al-Zahra, this bowl or ataifor would have been part of the domestic crockery at the caliph’s home. This can be inferred from the inscription ‘al-Mulk’, ‘the power’, presumably referring to the power of the caliph.

How date and origin were established:

The kufic script belongs to an initial stage of production at Madinat al-Zahra, before the reign of al-Hakam II (350–66 / 961–76).

How Object was obtained:

The ataifor was given to the National Archaeological Museum by the State on 5 February 1943.

How provenance was established:

The piece came from archaeological excavations at Madinat al-Zahra. Most of the ceramics are characterised by an open not a closed shape, and the majority of them are ataifors. The phrase ‘al-Mulk’, related to Umayyad power and legitimacy, is the inscription most frequently found in this type of ceramic.

Selected bibliography:

Camps Cazorla, E., “Cerámica y Vidrios Califales de Medina Azahara”, in Adquisiciones del Museo Arqueológico Nacional (1940–1945), Madrid, 1947, p.154.
Castejón y Martínez de Arizala, R., Excavaciones del Plan Nacional de Medina Azahara (Córdoba). Campaña de 1943. Informes y Memorias no. 8, Madrid, 1945.
El Esplendor de los Omeyas Cordobeses, Exhibition catalogue, Granada, 2001.

Citation of this web page:

Margarita Sánchez Llorente "Ataifor (bowl)" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2017. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;es;Mus01;2;en

Prepared by: Margarita Sánchez LlorenteMargarita Sánchez Llorente

Margarita Sánchez Llorente cursó estudios de Historia del Arte y Psicología en la facultad de Filosofía y Letras de la Universidad Complutense de Madrid, obteniendo la licenciatura en 1974.Tras realizar numerosos cursos de posgrado en museología y documentación del patrimonio histórico-artístico y arqueológico, le fueron concedidas varias becas de investigación en museística. De 1989 a 2000 trabajó en el Museo Arqueológico Nacional, en la gestión y documentación de los proyectos de la Unión Europea: EMN (European Museum Network), RAMA (Remote Access to Museum Archives) y –como colaboradora del departamento de Antigüedades Egipcias y del Próximo Oriente– Champollion. Ha participado en numerosos coloquios y encuentros internacionales y publicado varios artículos sobre las nuevas tecnologías aplicadas a la documentación en los museos.

Copyedited by: Rosalía AllerRosalía Aller

Rosalía Aller Maisonnave, licenciada en Letras (Universidad Católica del Uruguay), y en Filología Hispánica y magíster en Gestión Cultural de Música, Teatro y Danza (Universidad Complutense de Madrid), ha obtenido becas de la Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional y la Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia de Madrid, así como el Diplôme de Langue Française (Alliance Française), el Certificate of Proficiency in English (University of Cambridge) y el Certificado Superior en inglés y francés (Escuela Oficial de Idiomas de Madrid). Profesora de Estética de la Poesía y Teoría Literaria en la Universidad Católica del Uruguay, actualmente es docente de Lengua Castellana y Literatura en institutos de Enseñanza Secundaria y formación del profesorado en Madrid. Desde 1983, ha realizado traducción y edición de textos en Automated Training Systems, Applied Learning International, Videobanco Formación y El Derecho Editores. Integra el equipo de Museo Sin Fronteras desde 1999 y ha colaborado en la revisión de los catálogos de “El Arte Islámico en el Mediterráneo”. Así mismo, ha realizado publicaciones sobre temas literarios y didácticos, ha dictado conferencias y ha participado en recitales poéticos.

Translation by: Laurence Nunny
Translation copyedited by: Monica Allen

MWNF Working Number: SP 02

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Umayyads of al-Andalus


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