Large bowl with ruby lustre glaze
Early Abbasid Period
Object Name: Bowl
Period: Early Abbasid Period
Date: late 8th to late 9th century
Provenance: Samarra or Basra, Iraq
Dimensions: 9.8 x 36 cm, weight:1.18kg
Medium: glazed earthenware
Registration Number: ARC.2009.7.362
Place Of Discovery/Findspot:  Murwab
This large bowl was discovered in a majlis (reception room) at the site of Murwab in northwest Qatar. Although heavily damaged by the saline conditions of the Qatari soil following more than a thousand years of burial, a stylised geometric and floral pattern can still be seen, with a geometric division of the surface and a large oblong leaf with large dots.

This bowl would have been expensive to make as it is decorated with a ruby-coloured lustre glaze. The process of creating lustreware involved multiple firings of an object, thus creating more risk of failure and cost. The red lustre on this bowl would have been applied over a glaze that had already been fired. Then, a second firing would take place involving careful control of the glaze’s chemical content and reduction of the oxygen level in the kiln, giving the bowl its lustrous metallic sheen. This technique can be traced to the mid-9th century in Iraq, with workshops in Basra and Samarra. The shape of this bowl is similar to many other fine Samarra table wares and is based on bowls imported from China during the 8th century.
Early Islamic Period 622 – 1000 CE

In 628 CE, the inhabitants of the administrative district of Al Hajar, which included the geographical area of present-day Bahrain, al-Hasa in eastern Saudi Arabia and Qatar, joined the new religion of Islam. The territory of Qatar was occupied mainly by two tribal groups, the Tamim and the Abd al-Qays.

During the early Abbasid period Qatar was famous, even at the court of Baghdad, for its red-dyed woollen coats, horse breeding and pearls. The entire population of the region benefited greatly from the maritime traffic passing through the Gulf, from Basra to China via India and Southeast Asia, as demonstrated by the large number of archaeological sites particularly in the northern region of Qatar.
Trade during the early Abbasid caliphate (750-1000 CE)

The Abbasid caliphate was a major dynasty ruling across the Islamic world. It succeeded the Umayyad dynasty in 750 CE bringing the capital eastwards from Damascus to Baghdad. Under the Abbasids came what has long been considered a golden age of Islam where knowledge was greatly advanced and widely disseminated. The dynasty stretched from as far as North Africa to the borders of China, making the capital in Baghdad well-placed to become a crossroads of trade and a cultural melting pot.

With the expansion of the Abbasid dynasty came further interaction between neighbouring lands, resulting in vital achievements including advancements in medicine and technological discoveries. The Abbasids sought innovative methods to generate revenue. This included developing new trade routes and capitalizing on existing ones such as the Silk Road, which facilitated the dynasty’s trading activities with India, Persia, East Asia, and Samarkand. Abbasid merchants saw an array of goods pass through land and sea routes, including ceramics, paper, silk and spices, to name a few.
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