Morphology of the Glass Carefe of Iran in the 5rd and 6th centuries AH

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Faculty of Tabriz Islamic Art University

2 Faculty of Tabriz Islamic art university


Seljuk Period is one of the most significant era in which the Islamic Art in Iran flourished in the fourth and fifth centuries particularly glass art. Carafe is considered as one of the most frequent glass vessels in this regard. Studying the form, structure, and the decoration of this kind of glass works can be an approach toward the study of glass art in Seljuk period. In so doing, the present study is an attempt to study the form and shape in terms of morphology that is one the prevalent contemporary approach in the area of literary criticism and of the sub-category of structuralism.
Morphology is a term first used by Vladimir Propp. His emphasis was on analyzing an effect in terms of its components and believes the structure of an effect is made in terms of its constituent components and the relations of that component. In his view, the structure of each effect is a system full of hidden relations that requires to be discovered in order to comprehend the relations of it.
This study is seeking to address this fundamental question that “what are the visual features of glass carafe of fourth and fifth centuries in Iran in terms of fixed (body and neck) and variable (decorations) elements. The date was then collected, categorized and analyzed. The present research is conducted upon the library studies. The methodology is descriptive-analytic.
The reason of selecting this approach is an emphasis on the form rather than the content in glass arts. In Propp’s view, analyzing the form is as important as the morphology of the species. He found the recognition of the fixed and variable components important. The fixed elements are the ones that would not change while the variable ones are different and brings variety.
Results from studying fifty-five glass carafes of this era shown that the carafes are made of the fixed elements of the tank as well as the variable elements of the decorations.
The tank form is made into three general states of lacrimal, parabola, and meatballs. Indeed, this part of carafe has the maximum amount of decorations that can be under study into two parts of abstraction and schematic-abstraction. The former is divided into three geometric, non-geometric and written parts while the latter includes animal, herbal, and humane.
In abstracted decorations, the geometric designs particularly beehive patterns are prominent while the written designs (with Kufic Calligraphy) comprises the good luck and blessing for the owner and holder of the dish. Also, non-geometric patterns are used to fill the carafe space most often with glass paste. In herbal schematic decorations, the patterns of flower, leaf and ivy are used in which the abstract quality is evident. In the animal part of the pattern, the bird scheme and especially the peacocks are into the circular geometric patterns. Not any trace from the humane patterns are seen in these carafes. The neck is also made like a thin narrow cylinder without any decoration and the neck is like an added strip sometimes with edge.


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