A Samanid Epigraphic Dish

Categorized as Topics

A Samanid Epigraphic Dish

Marika Sardar


Ceramic dishes of the Samanid period (819–1005) are known for the inclusion of epigraphy in their decorative programs. Inscriptions include proverbs praising moral qualities, such as generosity, planning, and wisdom. This presentation explores a Samanid epigraphic dish in the Aga Khan Museum collections and compares its epigraphic contents to a 19th-century English dish, which features the well-known phrase “Waste Not Want Not.”


Holakooei, Parviz, Jean-François de Lapérouse, Federico Carò, Stefan Röhrs, Ute Franke, Martina Müller-Wiener, and Ina Reiche. “Non-invasive scientific studies on the provenance and technology of early Islamic ceramics from Afrasiyab and Nishapur.” Journal of Archaeological Science 24 (April 2019): 759–72.

Pancaroğlu, Oya. “Serving Wisdom: The Contents of Samanid Epigraphic Pottery.” In Studies in Islamic and Later Indian Art from the Arthur M. Sackler Museum, edited by Rochelle Kessler, 59–75. Harvard University Art Museums, 2002.

Volov, Lisa.“Plaited Kufic on Samanid Epigraphic Pottery.” Ars Orientalis 6 (1966): 107–33.  

Wilkinson, Charles. Nishapur: Pottery of the Early Islamic Period. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1973.


Marika Sardar, “A Samanid Epigraphic Dish,” Khamseen: Islamic Art History Online, published 28 August 2020.

Marika Sardar is an independent scholar who has held curatorial positions at the Aga Khan Museum, Toronto, the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, the San Diego Museum of Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Major exhibitions include Interwoven Globe (2013), focusing on the worldwide textile trade from the 16th-18th century; Sultans of Deccan India, 1500-1750 (2015), examining the artistic traditions of the Muslim sultanates of central India; and Epic Tales from Ancient India (2016), looking at narrative traditions and the illustration of texts from South Asia.