Two Mamluk Tiles

2 • Two Mamluk Tiles

Syria, mid-15th century
19 cm and 19.5 cm long
Underglaze-painted ceramic tortoiseshell, gold leaf, ivory

These two rare hexagonal tiles of the period show musical instruments: an
oud and a spike fiddle. Both are surrounded by elegant spirals of floral design,
underglazed and painted in blue on white.

They show the strong influence of Chinese ceramic designs on the rest of
the world, and illustrate the important role of music to the Mamluk dynasty.

Other examples are in the Damascus National Museum, the Victoria &
Albert Museum, London, and the American University of Beirut.

The oud was purchased in Aleppo in 1969 from Marcopoli, the last living
descendant of Marco Polo.