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The Mongols in Iran
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Star and Cross Tiles
Iran (probably Takht-i Sulaiman), 1270s
Fritware, overglaze painted (lajvardina)
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Shinji Shumeikai Acquisition Fund (AC1996.115.1–4)
cat. 83
Photo @ 2003 Museum Associates/LACMA
[click images for full object view]

Star and Cross Tiles Star and Cross Tiles
Star and Cross Tiles

One consequence of the Mongol invasions and subsequent establishment of Ilkhanid rule in Iran was the introduction of Chinese-inspired motifs, such as the dragon and the phoenix. These motifs, which may have been brought westward via imported textiles, quickly became part of the new vocabulary of ornament that was reflected in the tile decoration of the royal residence at Takht-i Sulaiman [more information on Takht-i Sulaiman].


  Star and Cross Tiles
Star and cross tiles such as these were produced in molds, which accounts for the repetition and duplication of compositions. The method of manufacture also helps to identify tiles not excavated at Takht-i Sulaiman such as this one, but which evidently shared the same molds with tiles uncovered at the site.   Star and Cross Tiles
Star tiles bearing a dragon or a phoenix, separated by cross tiles and arranged in alternate clusters of turquoise or cobalt blue, were found in the so-called North Octagon, part of a larger complex of a vaulted hall flanked by two octagonal chambers.   Star and Cross Tiles

Several techniques were used for decorating the tiles at Takht-i Sulaiman including the overglaze lajvardina technique seen here. In this technique a monochrome glaze of turquoise (as seen here), cobalt blue, or white was applied and the tile fired. The tile was then decorated with gold leaf, and finally painted with black, white, or red enamel and fired a second time. Such brilliantly glazed and gilt tiles must have dazzled visitors to the palace.

  Star and Cross Tiles
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