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Pottery in the written sources of the Ayyubid-Mamluk period (c. 567–923/1171–1517)1

  • Marcus Milwright (a1)


Vast quantities of ceramic shards of the Ayyubid-Mamluk period have been recovered from excavations of major urban sites such as Fusṭāṭ and Ḥamā, as well as from numerous smaller settlements in the Levant. Knowledge of the range of glazed and decorated wares has been supplemented by the publication of complete vessels in museum collections. As a result of archaeological and art historical research some production sites have been identified and broad chronological divisions established within the ceramic repertoire. Less well understood, however, is the social and economic environment within which pottery was produced and utilized. In addition, analysis of the objects themselves reveals little about the value ascribed to ceramics in relation to the other craft media of the period. This paper will attempt to provide further insights into the manufacture, trade and consumption of pottery in the Levant in the Ayyubid-Mamluk period (including some comments concerning the Crusader states in Palestine) by using contemporary Arabic and Western written sources.



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I would like to thank Professor James Allan, Dr. Jeremy Johns, and Nadia Jamil for their comments and criticisms during the preparation of this paper.



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2 Summaries of the state of current research can be found in: Pringle, D., ‘Medieval pottery of Palestine and Transjordan (A.D. 636–1500): an introduction, gazetteer and bibliography’, Medieval Ceramics 5, 1981, 4560; Tonghini, C. and Grube, E., ‘Towards a history of Syrian Islamic pottery before 1500’, Islamic Art 3, 1989, 5993; Brown, R., ‘Chronological, typological, and ethnographic approaches to late Islamic ceramic analysis’, in Late Islamic ceramic production and distribution in the southern Levant: a socio-economic and political interpretation (unpublished Ph.D. thesis, Binghampton University, 1992), 94154; Tonghini, C., Qalՙat Jaՙbar pottery. A study of a Syrian fortified site of the late llth–14th centuries, British Academy monographs in archaeology No. 11 (London: Council of British Research in the Levant; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), 2774.

3 Other studies which utilize literary sources in the discussion of Islamic ceramics and porcelain in the Islamic world include: Bahgat, A. and Massoul, F., La céramique musulmane de l'Egypte (Cairo, 1930), 514; Lane, A. and Serjeant, R., ‘Pottery and glass fragments from the Aden littoral, with historical notes’, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1948, 108133; Kahle, P., ‘Chinese porcelain in the lands of Islam’, and ‘Supplement’, rept. in Opera Minora (Leiden, 1956), 326361; Raby, J. and Yücel, U., ‘Historical notes’, in Krahl, R. and Ayers, J. (ed.), Chinese ceramics in the Topkapi Saray museum (London: Sotheby's, 1986). For ceramics in the Latin kingdom, see comments in Pringle ‘Medieval pottery of Palestine and Transjordan’, 45–7.

4 Adams, W., ‘On the argument from ceramics to history: a challenge based on evidence from Medieval Nubia’, Current Anthropology 20/4, 1979, 732.

5 Goitein, S., ‘The main industries of the Mediterranean area as reflected in the records of the Cairo Geniza’, Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 1, 1958, 188189. For comparative data from twelfth-century Damascus, see Elisséeff, N., ‘Corporations de Damascus sous Nūr al-Dīn: matériaux pour une topographie économique de Damas au XIIe siècle’, Arabica 3, 1956, 69, 71 (kūziyyīn and qaṣṣaՙīn).

6 For instance, Tyre is noted for its pottery in the twelfth century. See al-Idrīsī, Abū ՙAbd Allāh, Opus geographicum, sive, ‘Liber ad eorum delectationem qui terras peregrare studeant’, ed. Bombaci, A. (Naples and Rome, 19711984), 365366.

7 al-Maqrīzī, Taqī al-Dīn Aḥmad b. ՙAlī, Kitāb al-Mawāՙiẓ wa ՚l-ՙitibār fī dhikr al-khiṭāṭ wa ՚l-athār (Bulaq, 1272/1855), 11, 95.

8 Ibn Khaldūn, ՙAbd al-Raḥmān b. Muḥammad, Prolégomènes d'ebn Khaldoun (al-Muqaddima), ed. Quatremère, M. (Paris, 1858), II, 309310, 316.

9 Ibn Duqmāq, Ibrāhīm b. Muḥammad, Description de l'Egypte (parts 4 and 5 of Kitāb al-Intisār li-wāsitat ՙiqd al-amṣār), (Bulaq, 1309–1910/1892–3), IV, 20, 27, 37, 52, 86; V, 41, 107, 108 for the kilns, and: V, 38, for the market. See also Denoix, S., Décrire le Caire Fusṭāṭ-Miṣr d'après Ibn Duqmāq et Maqrīzī. L'histoire d'une partie de la ville d'après deux historiens égyptiens des XIVe–XVe siècles (Institut Français d'archéologie orientale du Caire. Etudes urbaines. III: Cairo, 1992), maps on 3738, 58.

10 Ibn Duqmāq (1892–3: IV, 21, 10). See also Denoix (1992: Z.73 on maps on 37–38, 58). Bahgat and Massoul (1930: 10–11): the authors caution that Ibn Duqmāq may refer to the same kilns more than once and that kilns may not have been in use coevally.

11 Raphael, , ‘Fragments from Fustat’, Transactions of the Oriental Ceramic Society 19231924, 1924; 1819.

12 al-Armanī, Abū Ṣāliḥ, The churches and monasteries of Egypt and some neighbouring countries attributed to Abû Sâliḥ, the Armenian, ed. and tr. Evetts, B. with added notes by A. Butler (Anecdota Oxoniensia: Oxford, 18941995), 1, 26; II, 66.

13 Yāqūt, ibn ՙAbd Allāh al-Hamawī, Jacut's geographische Wörterbuch (Kitāb al-Muՙjam al-buldān), ed. Wüstenfeld, F. (Leipzig, 18661970), 1, 217.

14 'l-Fidā', Abū, ՙImad al-Dīn Ismā ՙīl b. ՙAlī, Tawqīm al-buldān (Géographie d'Aboul Féda), ed. Reinaud, J. and de Slane, W. MacGuckin (Paris, 1840), 263.

15 Ibn al-Shiḥna, Muḥammad b. Muḥammad, Les perles choisies d'Ibn ach-Chihna. Matériaux pour servir a l'histoire de la ville d'Alep, 1 (extracts from Kitāb al-Durr al-muntakhab), tr. Sauvaget, J. (Beirut, 1933), 194195. Ibn Shaddād, ՙIzz al-Dīn Muḥammad b. ՙAlī, La description d'Alep d'ibn Saddād, 1, pt. 1 (excerpt from al-ՙAlāq al-khaṭīra fī dhikr umarā՚ al-shām al-jazīra), ed. Sourdel, D. (Damascus, 1953), 91: he mentions a masjid fī ՚l-fākhūrati in the list of mosques located outside Bāb al-Anṭākiyya, Aleppo.

16 Abū Shāma, ՙAbd al-Raḥmān b. Ismāՙīl, Autobiographie d'Abou Chamah tirée du complément (Dzeïl) du ‘Livre des deux jardins’, in Receuil des historiens des Croisades (Historiens Orientaux) V, (rept. Farnborough, 1969), 211; Ibn Shaddād, ՙIzz al-Dīn Muḥammad b. ՙAlī, La description de Damas d'Ibn Šaddād, historien et géographe mort à Alep en 684/1285 (excerpt from al-ՙAlāq al-khaṭīra fī dhikr umarā՚ al-shām wa ՙl-jazīra), ed. Dahan, S. (Damascus, 1957), 107: he mentions a darb al-fawākhir; previously known as darb al-kīsān, in Damascus.

17 Carswell, J., ‘Ṣīn in Syria’, Iran 17, 1979, 19, pl. XVIII; Raphael (1924: 20).

18 Jenkins, M. (ed.), Islamic art in the Kuwait National Museum (London, 1983), No. 84.

19 Fabri, F., Voyage en Egypte de Felix Fabri, 1483, tr. Masson, J. (Collection des voyageurs occidentaux en Egypte No. 14: Cairo, 1975), 107.

20 al-Khazrajī, ՙAlī b. al-Hasan, The pearl-strings: a history of the Resuli dynasty of Yemen (Kitāb al-ՙUqūd al-lu'lu'iyya fī akhbār al-dawlat al-rasūliyya), ed. ՙAsal, M. and tr. and annotated Redhouse, J. et al. (E.J.W. Gibb memorial series Vol. 3: Leiden, 19061918), V, 232233; III, 206, n. 1508. For a discussion of the local pottery of Yemen, see Tonghini, C., ‘The finds’ in G. King and C. Tonghini, A survey of the Islamic sites near Aden and in the Abyan district of Yemen (London: School of Oriental and African Studies, 1996), 3237.

21 Laborde, L., Les ducs de Bourgogne: études sur les lettres, les arts, et l'industrie pendant le XVe siècle (Paris, 18491952), II, 258, No. 4201.

22 Müntz, E., Les collections des Médicis au XVe siècle. La musée: la bibliothèque: le mobilier. Appendice aux précurseurs à Renaissance (Paris, 1888), 2526. See also Spallanzani, M., Ceramiche orientali a Firenze nel Rinascimento (Florence, 1978), Appendix A, Doc. 25 (dated 1494).

23 de Clavijo, R., Embassy to Tamerlane, 1403–6, tr. Le Strange, G. (London, 1928), 287288.

24 For instance, see Migeon, G., ‘Nouvelles découvertes sur la céramique de Damas’, Revue de l'Art Ancienne et Moderne 44 (1923), 383386; Sauvaget, J., Poteries Syro-Mesopotamiennes du XIVe siècle (Paris, 1932). 'l-Faraj al-ՙUsh, Abū, ‘Fakhkhār ghayr maṭlī I’, Les annales archéologiques arabes syriennes 10 (1960), 135384 (Arabic section). Also AAAS 11–12 (1961–62), 35–60 (Arabic section); AAAS 13 (1963), 3–52 (Arabic section).

25 Jenkins, M., ‘Mamluk underglaze-painted pottery: foundations for future study’, Muqarnas 2, 1984, 110112.

26 Examples of this practice are given in Atasoy, N. and Raby, J., Iznik. The pottery of Ottoman Turkey (London, 1989), 63. See also Jenkins (1984; Pl. 15 a, b). This decorated base carries the legend, ‘ՙamal ibn Ghaybī’ and is countersigned ‘Ghaybī’.

27 For instance, see Bahgat and Massoul (1930: Pl. XLIV. 1 and 2).

28 Atasoy and Raby (1989: 63).

29 For instance, see Bahgat and Massoul (1930: Pl. XLIV).

30 al-Maqrīzī, Taqī al-Dīn Aḥmad b. ՙAlī, Kitāb al-Mawāՙiẓ wa 'l-ՙitibār fī dhikr al-khiṭāṭ wa 'l-athār, ed. Wiet, G. (Cairo, 19111927), 1, 290–1: this passage refers to the use of Nile mud for the construction of vessels in the context of a Coptic festival (ՙīd mikā՚īl). A correlation between the chemical components of the ceramic fabric of fourteenth-century sgraffito wares and Nile mud is demonstrated in A. ՙAbd al-Rāziq, ‘Le sgraffito de l'Egypte dans la collection d'al-Ṣabāḥ', Annales Islamologiques 24, 1988, 13–14. Fabri also records that Nile mud was used for the manufacture of bricks. See Fabri (1975: 443, 920).

31 Abū Ṣālih al-Armanī (1894–95: 1, 53; II, 131).

32 Yāqut (1866–70: 1, 631). For a later account of this trade, see Çelebi, Evliya, Narrative of travels in Europe, Asia and Africa in the seventeenth century, tr. Hammer, J. Von (London: Oriental translation fund, 18341850), 1, pt. 2, 193 No. 323. The use of clay vessels is also specified in a technical manual of the Ayyubid mint (Kashf al-asrār al-ilmiyya bi dar al-darb al-miṣriyya by Manṣūr b. Baՙra al-Dhahabī al-Kāmilī). See Ehrenkreutz, E., ‘Extracts from the technical manual on the Ayyubid mint in Cairo’, BSOAS XV, 1953, 443445.

33 For instance, see Ibn al-Bayṭār, ՙAbd Allāh ibn Ahmad, Kitāb al-jāmiՙ fī 'l-adwiyyat al-mufrada (Bulaq 1291/1874), III, 108113; Anonymous pilgrims I–VI, tr. Stewart, A. (Palestine pilgrim texts society No. 6: London, 1894), 59. See also Hasluck, F., Christianity and Islam under the sultans, ed. Hasluck, M. (Oxford, 1929), II, 671688; Raby, J., ‘Terra Lemnia and the potteries of the Golden Horn: an antique revival under Ottoman auspices’, Byzantinische Forschungen 21 (Amsterdam, 1995), 305342.

34 al-Ukhuwwa, Ibn, Diyā' al-Dīn Muhammad b. Muhammad al-Qurayshī al-Shafiՙī, The Maՙālim al-qurba fī ahkām al-ḥisba, ed. (with an abstract of the contents) Levy, R. (E.J.W. Gibbs memorial. New series No. 12: London, 1938), 223 (Arabic text); Bassām, Ibn, Muḥammad b. Aḥmad, Nihāyat al-rutba fī talab al-ḥisba, ed. al-Samarrā'ī, Ḥusām al-Dīn (Baghdad, 1968), 199.

35 Ibn al-Ukhuwwa (1938: 223 (Arabic text)).

36 This type of artificial paste usually contained a mixture of white ball clay, glass frit and powdered quartz. A fourteenth-century treatise by the Persian author, 'l-Qāsim, Abū, includes a section discussing the manufacture of stone-paste. Translated by Allan, J., ‘Abu'l-Qāsim's treatise on ceramics’, Iran 11, 1973, 111120. For a petrographic analysis of the composition of stonepaste ceramics, see: Mason, R., ‘Criteria for the petrographic characterization of stonepaste ceramics’, Archaeometry 37/2, 1995, 307321.

37 Ibn al-Ukhuwwa (1938: 223 (Arabic text)).

38 Ibn Bassām (1968: 199).

39 Ibn al-Ukhuwwa (1938: 222 (Arabic text)); Ibn Bassām (1968: 158).

40 Ibn Bassām (1968: 159). The menders of broken cups are mentioned amongst the craftsmen of Constantinople in the seventeenth century. See Evliya Çelebi (1834–50: 1/2, 212, No. 420).

41 Ibn Bassām (1968: 158).

42 Examples of the names of clients include Shams al-Dīn Khālid, ՙAlā' al-Dīn Altunbugha and Shihāb al-Dīn b. Sayf al-Dīn Farajī. See Mayer, L., Saracenic heraldry (Oxford, 1933), 64, 139, 206–7.

43 Watson, O., ‘Ceramics’, in Art from the world of Islam, 8th–18th century (Louisiana Revy, 27/3 (March 1987)), Cat. No. 142, 9495.

44 Fouquet, D., Contribution à l'étude de la céramique orientale (Extraits des mémoires de l'Institut Egyptien: Cairo, 1900), 132.

45 Maqrīzī, , Khiṭāṭ (1855: II, 274).

46 al-Ẓāhir, Ibn ՙAbd, Muḥyī al-Dīn ՙAbd Allāh, al-Rawd al-zāhir fī sirat al-malik al-ẓāhir, ed. al-Khuwayṭar, ՙAbd al-ՙAzīz (Riyadh, 1396/1976), 82. In the text the last word reads ‘ḥ-r-f’. In the absence of any clear meaning from this root the possibility of ‘khazaf’ (often used to denote glazed ceramic) is suggested.

47 Maqrīzī, , Khiṭāṭ (1855: II, 274); 'l-Faḍā'il, Ibn Abī, Mufaḍḍal, Moufazzal ibn Abil-Fazail: Histoire des sultans Mamlouks (Kitāb al-Nahj al-sadīd), (ed. and tr.) Blochet, E. (rept. from Patriologia Orientalis 19161920), 1, 500501.

48 Répertoire chronologique d'épigraphie arabe (Cairo, 1931 onwards), XIII, No. 4885.

49 Sauvaget, J. (ed. Sourdel-Thomine, J. and Sourdel, D.), ‘Introduction à l'étude de la céramique musulmane’, Revue des Etudes Islamiques 33, 1965, 45; Bahgat and Massoul (1930: 84, Pl. XLIV).

50 Maqrīzī, , Khiṭāṭ (19111927: II, 8186).

51 Hütteroth, W. and Abdulfattah, K., Historical geography of Palestine, Transjordan and Southern Syria in the late sixteenth century (Nuremberg, 1977), 91.

52 al-Makhzūmī, Abū 'l-Ḥasan ՙAlī b. ՙUthmān, Kitāb al-Minhāj fī ՙilm kharaj miṣr, (partial ed.) Cahen, C. and Rāghib, Y. (Supplément aux Annales Islamologiques, No. 8: Cairo, 1986), 22.

53 Alberti, C. (ed.), Liber jurium republicae Genuensis (Historiae Patriae Monumenta, No. 1: 1858), cols. 687–8. A document dated 1391 mentions the export of ‘opera di terra’ from Beirut to Barcelona. See Spallanzani (1978: 148–9).

54 d'Ibelin, Jean, Assises de Jérusalem: tome deuxieme, assises de la cour des bourgeois, ed. Beugnot, , le Comte (Recueil des historiens des Croisades, Lois, Vol. 2: Paris, 1843), 179.

55 Maqrīzī, Khiṭāṭ (1911–27: 1, 277).

56 Jubayr, Ibn, Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad, The travels of Ibn Jubayr (Riḥla), ed. Wright, E. with additions and corrections by M. de Goeje (E.J.W. Gibb memorial series No. 5: Oxford, 1907), 89; Ibn al-Ukhuwwa (1938: 152 (Arabic text)).

57 Alhazmeh, K. Late Mamluk patronage: Qānṣūh al-Ghūrī's waqf and his foundations in Cairo (Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, Ohio State University, 1993), 137, No. 40 (citing Cairo, Ministry of Waqfs, No. 882).

58 Baṭṭūṭa, Ibn, Muḥammad b. ՙAbd Allāh, Voyages d'ibn Batoutah (Tuḥfat al-nuẓẓār fī gharā՚ib al-āmṣar wa-ՙajā՚ib al-asfār), ed. and tr. Defrémery, C. and Sanguinetti, B. (Paris, 18531858), 1, 136.

59 al-Nuwayrī, , Aḥmad ibn ՙAbd al-Wahhāb, Nihāyat al-arab fī funūn al-adab (Cairo, 19231992), VIII, 270.

60 Harff, A. von, The pilgrimage of Arnold von Harff, knight from Cologne, through Italy, Syria, Egypt, Arabia, Nubia, Palestine, Turkey, France and Spain which he accomplished in the years 1496 to 1499, tr. and annotated M. Letts (Works issued by the Hakluyt society, 2nd. Series, No. 94: London, 1946), 99.

61 Khusraw, Nāṣir-i, Abū Muՙin Nāsir b. Khusraw, Sefer Nameh: relation du voyage de Nassiri Khosrau en Syrie, en Palestine, en Arabie et en Perse pendant les années de l'heégire 437–444 (1035–2), tr. Schefer, C. (Paris, 1881), 153.

62 Bertrandon de la Brocquière in Wright, T. (ed.), Early travels in Palestine (London, 1848), 305. A jar is described in the French Royal accounts of 1416: ‘à Regnault Morel pour une pot de Damas plein de gingembre vert’. See Fortnum, C., A descriptive catalogue of majolica, Hispano Moresco, Persian, Damascus and Rhodian wares in the South Kensington Museum (London, 1873), 9.

63 Lanc, A., Italian porcelain (London, 1947), 1.

64 Pagani, Z., Voyage du magnifique et très illustré chevalier et procurateur de saint Marc, Domenico Trevisano, appended to J. Thenaud, Le voyage d'Outremer de Jean Thenaud suivi de la relation de l'ambassador de Domenico Trevisan auprès du soudan d'Egypte, tr. Schefer, C. (Paris, 1884), 181. A gift of jars containing milk and flowers was made by an unnamed Muslim to king Louis. See Joinville in Joinville, J. and Villehardouin, R., Chronicles of the Crusades, tr. Shaw, M. (London, 1963), 261.

65 De Mignanelli in Fischel, W., ‘A new Latin source on Tamerlane's conquest of Damascus (1400/1401). (B. de Mignanelli's ‘Vita Tamerlani’, 1416)Oriens 9 (1956), 226. A Florentine inventory dated 1420 mentions a vessel for sugar storage: ‘Uno vaso di terra da zucchero chiarito, di braccia’. See Spallanzani (1978: 155–8).

66 Cohen, A., Economic life in Ottoman Jerusalem (Cambridge studies in Islamic civilization: Cambridge, 1989), 7677 (citing Jerusalem Muslim court records).

67 Maymūn, Moses b., Moses Maimonides on the causes of symptoms. Maqālah fī bayān baՙd al-aՙrād wa-al-jawdd ՙanhā. Ma'amar ha-hakraՙah. De causis accidentum, ed. Liebowitz, J. and Marcus, S. (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1974), 147148.

68 Maymūn, Moses b., Treatise on poisons, hœmorrhoids and cohabitation. Maimonides' medical writings, (tr.) Rosner, F. (Maimonides Research Institute, Haifa, c. 1984), 149.

69 Ibn al-Baytār (1874: II, 57–8).

70 Savage-Smith, E., ‘Ibn al-Nāfīs's perfected book on ophthalmology and his treatment of trachoma and its sequelae’, Journal of the History of Arabic Science 4/1 (1980), 174175 (English text), 189 (Arabic text) and n. 82. Powdered potshards are used in equine medicine by Ibn al-ՙAwwām in the late twelfth century. See Clement-Mullet, J. tr., Le Livre d'agriculture d'ibn al-Awam, kitab al-Felahah (Paris, 18641867), II, Pt. 2, 139.

71 Appended to Ibn Ḥabīb, al-Ḥasan b. ՙUmar, Tadhkirat al-nabīh fī ayyām al-mansur wa-banīhi, ed. Amin, M. and Ahour, S. (Cairo, 19761982), 1, 364. The alberello made for the hospital of Nūr al-Dīn ibn Zankī is inscribed with the word for waterlily (nawfāra) suggesting that the vessel was meant to contain a preparation of this plant. See Watson (1987: Cat. No. 142).

72 al-Khazrajī (1906–8: iv, 440).

73 Dols, M., The Black Death in the Middle East (Princeton, 1977), 126127. See also Lane, E., The manners and customs of modern Egyptians (London, 1836), 1, 328.

74 Ibn al-Ukhuwwa (1938: 112, 239 (Arabic text)). Modern ethnographic research provides numerous other uses for broken ceramic. See Rice, P., Pottery analysis: a sourcebook (Chicago, 1987), 294, Table 9.3.

75 History of the patriarchs of the Egyptian Church known as the history of the Holy Church. Volume IV. Parts 1, 1 Cyril III, Ibn Laklak (1216–3 a.d.), tr. and annotated A. Khater and O. Burmester (Publications de la société d'archéologie Copte. Textes et documents Nos. 14, 15: Cairo, 1974), 66 (English text), 31 (Arabic text): ‘And the sultan sent to the two cities (Qāhira and Miṣr) to search for the empty jars and all the pottery vessels (yatlubu 'l-jirāra 'l-firgha wa-kulla awānī 'l-fakhkhāri 'l-farighati), so as to fill them with sand and to use them to fill up the trench (al-khandaq). And this was proclaimed in Misr and there was collected on the bank of the river, by way of jars and pots (al-jirār wa 'l-qudūr), thousands beyond counting, and most were brought to the camp.’ Recent excavations by the American university in the downtown area of Beirut found that unglazed ceramics were used in the foundations of buildings in the Byzantine and Islamic periods.

76 al-Qalqashandī, Aḥmad b. ՙAlī, Kitāb subḥ al-aՙsha (Cairo 19131918), n, 137138; Ambroise, , The Crusade of Richard Lion-Heart, (tr.) Hubert, Merton Jerome with notes by J. La Monte (Columbia University Press, 1941), 149, 1. 3217; Ayalon, D., Gunpowder and firearms in the Mamluk kingdom: a challenge to Mediaeval society (London, 1956), 1622. Attempts have been made to identify a group of Islamic ceramic containers usually called ‘sphero-conical vessels’ with the ‘grenades’ cited in these passages (for instance: de Saulcy, F., ‘Note sur les projectiles à main creux et terre cuite de fabrication arabe’, Mémoires de la sociéte des antiquaires de France 35 (1874), 18–4). Modern scholarship has cast doubt on the idea that sphero-conical vessels were meant for this military application. For the most up-to-date review of this subject, see: Savage-Smith, E., ‘Sphero-conical vessels: a typology of forms and functions’, in Maddison, F. and Savage-Smith, E., Science, tools and magic. Pt. 2, J. Raby (ser. ed.) (Nasser D. Khalili collection of Islamic art No. 12: London and Oxford, 1997), 324328.

77 Ibn al-Ukhuwwa (1938: 56 (Arabic text)).

78 Lane, A., ‘Archaeological excavation at Kom el Dik: a preliminary report on the Medieval pottery’, Farouk I university. Bulletin of the Faculty of Arts 5 (1949), 143147. Reference to ceramics traded in Alexandria appears in Piloti, E., Traité d'Emmanuel Piloti sur la passage en Terre Sainte (1420), (Paris, 1958), 93.

79 al-Khazrajī (1906–8: iv, 440–2); Lane and Serjeant (1948: 111–6). For examples of porcelain and celadon found on field surveys in Yemen, see King and Tonghini (1996: 38–9, Pls. xxviii–xxxiii).

80 Baumgarten, M., Peregarinatio in Aegyptum, Arabiam, Palestinam ad Syriam (Nuremberg, 1594), 112. Barbosa, D., A description of the coasts of East Africa and Malabar in the beginning of the sixteenth century tr. Stanley, H. (Works issued by the Hakluyt society, No. 35: London, 1866), 185: the author mentions that ‘Martaban’ wares were also popular in the Muslim world.

81 Spallanzani (1978: 42–3 (citing Pratica della mercatura ms. C226, Biblioteca Maruscelliana)).

82 Belon, P., Les observations de plusieurs singularitez et choses mémorables trouvées en Grece, Asie, Judeé, Arabie, Egypte et autres pays étranges (Paris, 1554), 298.

83 Ibn Baṭṭuṭa (1853–58: 1, 238–9).

84 Iyās, Ibn, Abū 'l-Barakat Muḥāmmad b. Aḥmad al-Hanafī, Die Chronik des Ibn Ijās (Badā'iՙ al-zuhūr fi waqā'iՙ al-duhūr), ed. Mustafa, M., Sobernheim, M. and Kahle, P. (Wiesbaden, 19601974), iv, 372.

85 Taghrībirdī, Ibn, Abū 'l-Maḥāsin Jamal al-Dīn Yūsuf, Abûl-Maḥāsin ibn Taghrî Birdî's annals al-Nujûm al-zâhira fî mulûk miṣr wa'l-qâhira (ed.) Popper, W. (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 19091936), VI, 541.

86 Kahle (1956: 343).

87 For instance: Kahle (1956: 342–43); Raby and Yücel (1986: 42–6).

88 Ibn al-Bayṭar (1874: 1, 119).

89 Qalqashandī (1913–18: IV, 10).

90 Ibn Iyäs (1960–74: IV, 409).

91 Maqrīzī, , Taqī al-Dīn Aḥmad ibn ՙAlī, Kitab al-Sulūk li-maՙrifat al-duwal al-muluk, ed. Ziada, M. and Ashour, S. (Cairo, 19341972), II, 441442.

92 Ibn Iyās (1960–74: 1, 535).

93 Ibn Iyās (1960–74: IV, 309).

94 Ibn Iyās (1960–74: IV, 442).

95 Abouseif, D. Behrens, Fatḥ Allāh and Abū Zakāriyya: physicians under the Mamluks (Supplėment aux Annales Islamologiques 10: Cairo, 1987), 35.

96 Muhammad b. Abū 'l-Surūr al-Ṣiddīqī, al-Rawḍ al-zāhiyya fī akhbār misr wa 'l-qāhira al-muՙizziyya (Bodleian, ms. Pococke 80), fol. 29v. See also Raby and Yücel, 21–3; Hobson, R. and Percival, W., ‘Chinese porcelain from Constantinople’, Transactions of the Oriental Ceramic Society 1933/ 1934 (1934), 1621.

97 Martin quoted in Hobson and Percival (1934: 21): the authors cite no documentary source although it may derive from the garbled legend reported by Evliya Çelebi. in a description of an Imperial auction in Istanbul he says that the Mamluk sultan, al-Ghawrī had learnt to make ‘Martaban’ pottery during a seven-year incarceration in Karak castle. According to the author, all 1,600 items in the sale were from the hand of the Mamluk sultan! The story of a sultan imprisoned in Karak refers to al-Nāṣir Muhammad ibn Qalāwūn and the association with al-Ghawrī may come from the use, according to Martin (see above), of the word ‘ghūrī’ in Egypt to denote celadon. See Evliya Çelebi in Bitlis: the relevant section of the Seyahatname, tr. Dankoff, R., Vol. 2 of (ed.) Kreiser, K. (Evliya Çelebi's book of travels. Land and people of the Ottoman empire in the seventeenth century: a corpus of partial editions: Leiden, 1990), 315 (279a).

98 Ibn Iyās (1960–74: V, 25).

99 Ibn Taghribirdī (1909–36: VI, 541); Maqrīzī, Khiṭāṭ (1855: II, 230); Ibn Iyās (1960–74: IV, 473).

100 al-Khazrajī (1906–18: II, 207–08; V, 232–34); Clavijo (1928: 224); Ibn Baṭṭuṭa(1853–58: II, 304).

101 Ibn Iyās (1960 74: 1, 393).

102 Pagani (1884: 191).

103 Ibn Iyās (1960–74: III, 241).

104 Ibn Iyās (1960–74: IV, 408).

105 Maqrīzī, Khitat (1855: II, 105).

106 Maqrīzī, Khiṭāṭ (1855: II, 68).

107 Ibn Taghrībirdī, History of Egypt from ‘Hawâdith al-duhûr fi madâ 'l-ՙayyâm wa 'l-shuhûr (845–854 A.H., A.D. 1441–1450), tr. and ed. W. Popper and W. Fischel (New Haven, 1967), 46–7, 67. The description of the pottery as ‘inscribed’ may indicate that the author is referring to local decorated pottery.

108 Maqrīzī, Sulūk (1934–72: 1, 54–55).

109 Ibn Abī ‘l-Faḍa'il (1916–20: 1, 453).

110 al-Khazrajī (1906–18: IV, 360–1; 1, 278–9).

111 Davillier, M., Les origines de la porcelaine en Europe (Paris, 1882), 910 (quoting Matthieu de Couchy, ms. 434, Sorbonne).

112 In a letter from Piero de Bibbiena to Clarice di'Medici quoted in Fabroni, Laurentii Medicis magnifici vita (Pisa, 1784), 337 apud Lane (1947: 1); Wansbrough, J., ‘A Mamluk commercial treaty concluded with the republic of Florence in 894/1489’, in Stern, S., (ed.) Documents from Islamic chanceries. First series (Oriental studies, No. 3: Oxford, 1965), 40.

113 Latrie, H. Mas, Histoire de l'île de Chypre sous le règne de la maison de Lusignan, (Paris 18521861), III, 405406.

114 Unpublished source quoted in Heyd, W., Histoire du commerce du Levant au Moyen Age, (tr. and ed.) Reynaud, F. (Leipzig, 1923), II, 679; M. Sanuto, ‘Le Vite dei Doge’ in Rerum Italicorum scriptores 22 (1785), 1169 apud Lane (1947: 1); R. Morosoni, Cronica, Venice, Museo Correr, cod. Correr 1048, f. 375r apud Raby and Yücel (1986: 28); Mas Latrie (1852–61: III, 481–83); J. Wansbrough, ‘A Mamluk letter of 877/1473’, BSOAS 24 (1961), 209; Sanuto, M., I diarii Marino Sanuto, Fulin, R. (ed.) (Venice, 18791902), II, 605; V, 92.

115 Gregoras, Nicephoras, Corpus scriptorum historiae Byzantinae, Part 19, (ed.) Niebuhr, B. (Bonn, 18291855), II, 788–89. I am very grateful to Ms. Evanthia Baboula for providing a translation of this passage.

116 For examples of the use of written sources in the study of the relative value accorded to different crafts in Classical Greece, see Vickers, M., ‘Material values past and present’, European Review 4/2 (1994), 295303.

117 For instance, see Scanlon, G., ‘The Fustat mounds: a shard count, 1968’, Archaeology 24 (1971), 225.

118 Goitein, S.,A Mediterranean society: the Jewish communities of the Arab world as portrayed in the documents of the Cairo Geniza. Volume IV: daily life (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1983), 146: letters of merchants in Aden state: ‘I happened to get here (Fusṭāṭ or Alexandria) carnelian-red ghaḍār and everybody envied me for this’ and ‘please buy me six painted platters made in Miṣr; they should be of middle size, neither very large or very small; and twenty regular bowls and forty small ones. All should be painted, and their figures and colours should be different’.

1 I would like to thank Professor James Allan, Dr. Jeremy Johns, and Nadia Jamil for their comments and criticisms during the preparation of this paper.


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