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:

63043

Material(s) / Technique(s):

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

Dimensions:

Height 7 cm, diameter 26 cm

Period / Dynasty

Umayyads of al-Andalus, Caliphate period

Workshop / Movement:

Madinat al-Zahra workshops (Córdoba).

Provenance:

Córdoba, Spain.

Description:

This ataifor is a dish with a convex base, curved sides and a smooth rim. The piece is made from reddish clay; the outside is covered with a honey-coloured greenish glaze and the inside with a white glaze. The inside of the receptacle is decorated with elements in green and manganese on a white base. The large circular border that runs round the edge of the plate, with fan-shaped palmettes joined by undulating stems, gives the piece a tri-lobed appearance. The central strip completes the decoration with an inscription in archaic kufic, where the phrase ‘al-Mulk’ (power) is repeated. The letters outlined using dark manganese lines are filled with copper green, creating a contrast with the white base that was common in the ceramics of the era.
The range of decorative motifs in Madinat al-Zahra ceramics is quite extensive but the most common inscription is the phrase ‘al-Mulk’, which in this case refers to the royal power of the Umayyads. This phrase is repeated persistently, and it is possible that there was a link between some ceramics production and official propaganda, particularly in view of the fact that patronage of the arts during the Caliphate was closely related to power and authority. The basic colours used could symbolise the emblem of the Andalusian Umayyads, with white representing the colour of the dynasty, green the colour of Islam and black the symbol of the prophet and Qur'anic austerity.

View Short Description

This bowl or ataifor, produced in the palace workshops of Madinat al-Zahra, is thought to have symbolic significance: the word ‘al-Mulk’, ‘the power’, represents sovereignty, while the white, green and black represent the Umayyad dynasty, Muhammad, and the austerity of the Qur’an respectively as well as the sovereignty of the caliph.

How date and origin were established:

The writing style could date it to the second third of the 4th / 10th century. The simple kufic inscription 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 ataifor came from archaeological excavations at Madinat al-Zahra. Both its shape and decoration are characteristic of palatine production at Madinat al-Zahra.

Selected bibliography:

Al-Andalus: Las Artes Islámicas en España,Exhibition catalogue, Madrid, 1992, p.232. English edition: Al-Andalus: The Art Of Islamic Spain (ed. J. D. Dodds), New York, 1992.
Camps Cazorla, E., “Cerámica y Vidrios Califales de Medina Azahara”, in Adquisiciones del Museo Arqueológico Nacional (1940–1945), Madrid, 1947, pp.148–54.
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.
Pavón Maldonado, B., El Arte Hispanomusulmán en Su Decoración Floral, Madrid, 1981, pp.115–25.

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;3;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 04

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