The Museum with no Frontiers states that the Abbasid period is when the first distinctly Islamic style of ceramics was developed. This arose from the desire to create objects that imitate Chinese porcelain. Through this experimentation– for the Abbasids did not have the exact same materials as the Chinese– new glazing and decorating techniques were created. Decorative motifs such as palmette leaves were used alongside new glazing methods such as the splash method and lustreware. Lusterware was possibly the Abbasids greatest contribution to the art of ceramics.
The online exhibition dedicated to the Abbasids pays special attention to ceramics, giving that subject its own section. Throughout the exhibition, a variety of different bowls, jugs and a couple of miscellaneous objects such as glazed tiles in the Great Mosque in Kairouan, a dish from Hegira, and an oil lamp from Hegira are included. Although the ceramic bowls are the best represented, this does not take away from the original claim that the Abbasids developed a uniquely Islamic style in ceramics. The numerous bowls showcase various aspects of the new techniques and therefore support Museum with no Frontiers’ claim.
One of the new techniques used in this time was the splash glazing technique as seen in the Ceramic Bowl from Hegira, now in the National Museum of Damascus. Whereas Chinese ceramics often used blue glaze, this bowl, along with many other Islamic ceramics, uses green glaze instead. The glaze is applied in such a way that it appears that the color is dripping from the edge of the bowl down towards the center. The inclusion of inscriptions was also popular at this time and this same bowl includes an inscription in the center.
The Vertical Sided Bowl from Hegira, now in the National Museum of Oriental Art in Rome, showcases another popular technique developed at the time of the Abbasid. Lustreware employs metallic pigments to create a glaze that imitates the appearance of metals such as gold and silver. The use of metal dishware was looked down upon in Islam as being frivolous. The development of lustreware was able to imitate metals without the dishware being made from actual metal, getting around this. The tiles of the Great Mosque in Kairouan also employ the lustre technique on the wall of the mihrab. By using lustre glazing in this way, the mihrab was given greater significance as compared to the other tiles throughout the rest of the mosque.
With regards to the development of a uniquely Islamic ceramic style, the online exhibition does the Abbasid dynasty justice. The most important achievements in decorative and glazing techniques were showcased throughout the ceramics section. Each technique was also displayed in multiple vessels. Therefore, the Museum with no Frontier upholds their claim that the Abbasids created the first distinctly Islamic ceramics.