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Panel with a "curved fleuron" motif  

Pottery tile decorated in relief under coloured glazes

Timurid Central Asia, Samarkand or Bukhara, second half of the 14th century

Musée du Louvre
Height: 55 cm; Width: 39 cm; Thickness: 7.5 cm

 

The lattice of stemmed split-palmettes, deeply carved or moulded, displays an elegant arabesque network inscribed in a large trilobed fleuron. The sharp and curved edges of the interlacing are underlined by the thickness of the glaze whose polychromy embellishes the decor.

The main motif of this large panel, the “curved fleuron” also called “trilobed medallion” is a reoccurring ornament in the Muslim world from the 11th century continuously through to the 17th century (Soustiel & Porter 2003, p. 234). It is found inside monuments, for example in the squinches of the funerary chamber of the Buyan Quli Khan mausoleum in Bukhara, around 1358 (op. cit., p. 50). It is also particularly present in the necropolis of Shah-e Zende in Samarkand where it decorates a great number of panels which feature a carved or a painted polychrome underglaze decoration. These panels are often placed on the facade of mausoleums, preceding the frieze which borders the entrance, as seen at the extremities of the epigraphic bands of the mausoleum of “an anonymous woman” of 1360 and inside the funerary chamber (op. cit., pp. 86-87). It also adorns the facade of the mausoleum of Amir Hoseyn ibn Qara Qutlugh, 1376 (op. cit., p. 106) and also that of Shad-e Mulk Aqa, dated post 1371 (op. cit., pp. 89-91).

Although it is not solely associated with a single type of representation, the trilobed arched motif evoking a mihrab remains strongly connected to funerary architecture.