DATE: 1661-1722 (made)
PLACE: China (made)
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES: Porcelain with enamels

Islamic merchants began to import Chinese ceramics to Middle Eastern territories from the 8th century and this teapot, made ca.1661-1722, demonstrates the way in which Chinese craftsmen borrowed heavily from the arabesques and plant scrolls found on Islamic decorative arts. Porcelain was at the core of the Indian Ocean trade of luxury objects, as lavish diplomatic gifts and a source of inspiration for local potters. By the Mongol conquest of China in the 13th century, a considerable trade of porcelain was established with the Islamic West, handled by colonies of Muslim merchants based in trading ports along the Chinese coast. Celadon dishes used for princely banquets were particularly fashionable in Persia and Syria, as well as blue and white wares such as this miniature teapot. The underglaze cobalt blue enamels are synonymous with Chinese porcelain design and Chinese potters began to produce items in overtly Islamic styles from the 16th century, which they called ‘Islamic blue’.