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Tile Mosaic Panel

Artist/maker unknown, Iranian or Persian

Made in Isfahan, Iran, Asia

16th century

Pottery, glazed

42 inches × 10 feet 6 inches (106.7 × 320 cm)

Curatorial Department:
East Asian Art

* Gallery 323, Asian Art, third floor

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Purchased with Museum funds, 1931

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This striking Persian mosaic was created during the Safavid dynasty (1501–1722). It is said to have come from a Sufi Muslim monastery that was located in the city of Isfahan, then the capital city of Persia (present-day Iran). The panel, with its alternating palmette and star motifs, is composed of myriad pieces of ceramic tile in which mirror-black, mingled with various shades of faun and umber, predominates. It is set into a background of brilliant turquoise, a color for which sixteenth-century Persian tilemakers were renowned.

Additional information:
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections

    Architecture has provided the most visible "canvas" for Islamic art, achieving particularly sophisticated expression during the reign of the Safavid court at Isfahan in Persia. This mosaic panel is one of a group installed in the Museum that are said to have come from a sixteenth-century monastery of the Sufi branch of Islam, but Persian buildings of all sorts, both sacred and secular, were covered inside and out with such elaborately decorated ceramic tiles. The glazed turquoise, cobalt blue, faun, white, and black colors of this panel are clear and brilliant, and the small ceramic pieces form a mosaic pattern whose predominant motifs are round star medallions that alternate with symmetrical floral palmettes in vases. These abstracted designs are meant not so much to emulate nature as to reflect the infinite perfection and ideal order of the universe. The complex pattern is repeated in the series of tile panels that encircle the room, giving a rich sense of depth to the space. Felice Fischer, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 64.

* Works in the collection are moved off view for many different reasons. Although gallery locations on the website are updated regularly, there is no guarantee that this object will be on display on the day of your visit.