Chinese porcelain made for the Islamic markets of Persia, Ottoman Turkey, Northern India and Southeast Asia and even featuring Arabic script is frequently encountered, but Japanese Satsuma ware featuring Arabic script and made for the Islamic market is practically unheard of.
This remarkable pair of Meiji Period Satsuma vases is decorated with various coloured enamels and gilt with large panels of cursive thuluth script. The reverse of each is decorated with panels of flowering trees and shrubbery. Each of these panels is the mirror image of the other demonstrating that these two vases are a true pair rather than being merely two similar vases.
The narrow necks are embellished with a pair of applied gilded elephant-head handles.
The pair are in excellent condition. Thuluth is a script variety of Islamic calligraphy developed in Persia by Ibn Muqlah Shirazi in the 11th century. The straight angular forms of Kufic were replaced by curved and oblique lines. It is a large, elegant, cursive script, often encountered in mosque decorations.
Satsuma ware originated in Japan in the late 16th century, during the Azuchi-Momoyama period. The best known type of Satsuma ware has a soft, ivory-colored, crackled glaze with elaborate polychrome and gold decorations and was produced almost entirely for the export market. Examples were exhibited at the international exhibition in Paris in 1867 after which it became a popular export to Europe.
Bennett, J., & A. Reigle Newland, The Golden Journey: Japanese Art from Australian Collections, Art Gallery of South Australia, 2009.
Earle, J., Splendors of Imperial Japan: Arts of the Meiji Period from the Khalili Collection, The Khalili Family Trust, 2002.