pottery belonged to one of the most important and earliest wares and there are
116 such items in the collection, including four Coptic vessels. It was suggested that the
sgraffiato technique was invented and introduced by the Copts in Egypt as early as the
4th and 5th centuries AD. All four pieces in the museum may have been discovered on a
shipwreck, since barnacles stuck to them. They preserve traces of a white glaze which
once must have covered them. One of them is decorated with a fish incised at the base
Sgraffiato ware played an important role in Iranian pottery during the 11th
and early 13th centuries. Several types were developed. One of these may be called simple sgraffiato, i.e. when the design was incised into a ground slip and covered with a coloured
or colourless transparent glaze. One such
vessel is a bowl, coated with a yellow ground
slip into which a large floral design was incised with scrollwork around and covered with
a colourless lead glaze (CER0150TSR).
The second type is known under the name of "Amol",
after the small town in Mazandaran, where several of these vessels were discovered. On "Amol"
wares the incised lines are painted in green and occasionally also in brown, which makes these
pieces very colourful. A small "Amol" dish depicts a swimming fish with scrolls around
The third type is known as champleve, when the decoration was carved out of
the ground slip. A small bowl with yellow ground slip, decorated with a four-petalled flower
at the base and an undulating scroll around the rim, may be a transitional piece from the
simple sgraffiato to the carved ware (CER0177TSR).
A second vessel, showing a seated,
probably female figure on a cushion, is a fully developed example (CER1746TSR).
Iranian sgraffiato is known under the name of "Aghkand", after a small place in northwestern
Iran. On "Aghkand" wares the incised lines serve to separate the different colours, such like
in cloisonne. Most "Aghkand" vessels are large bowls or dishes, depicting large birds or
animals. A large bowl with an everted flat rim in the Museum's collection shows a cockerell
against a floral scroll (CER1747TSR). Most of these Iranian sgraffiato can be dated to the
12th century AD. Syrian sgraffiato of the same period is closely related to "Aghkand" wares.
The vessels have the same rounded sides and everted flat rim and they are likewise very
colourful, like the large bowl which is the only such ware in the collection (CER0655TSR).
Somewhat different sgraffiato was made in Afghanistan during the pre-Mongol period, i.e. between
During the Mamluk period a special type, the so-called Mamluk sgraffiato was made in
Egypt during the 14th and 15th centuries. They were made of thick red earthenware and coated
with a mustard coloured ground slip into which the decoration was incised, then covered with
a clear lead glaze. The incised designs were frequently painted in manganese. The decorations
included balzons, animals and inscriptions.
The Museum has five complete or near complete
vessels seven fragments in its collection. A fragmentary bowl, which lost its rim has a floral
design at its base (CER0616TSR), while a second complete vessel is decorated with a
six-pointed star and four fish swimming around, while the everted rim carries pseudo-epigraphic