The al-Sabah Collection is rich in ceramics, covering the range of different techniques used by potters of the Islamic world from the earliest period through to the 19th century. The examples below include an early earthenware bowl painted in lustre which displays a metallic sheen produced by metal oxides when the piece was fired a second time in a kiln low in oxygen. This technique of decoration was first employed on ceramics in Iraq in the 9th century CE, subsequently to spread far and wide over a period of almost a millennium.

The development of fritware in the 11th-12th centuries CE provided the Islamic potter with a white body superficially simulating that of Chinese porcelain, which reigned supreme as the most luxurious and expensive of ceramics. Among well-known types of Islamic pottery with frit bodies are various large and small bowls, jars, etc., from Iranian lands, Syria and Turkey.

The use of polychrome ceramic tiles to decorate buildings was an ancient Near Eastern decorative tradition and became one of the most important products of the Islamic potter. Decorative techniques largely paralleled those employed for vessels. Additional techniques were developed for the manufacture of the large-scale designs that building tiles demanded.

View some of our ceramics collection below.