I disagree with the statement “It is not until the Abbasid period that a distinct type and style of ceramic ware emerged that can be distinguished technically as ‘Islamic’.” As we see in Abbasid ceramics, the styles of past dynasties has not completely disappeared from the Islamic decorative canon.
The Abbasids ruled from Central Asia to Tunisia, their capitol based in what is now Syria. With major trade cities like Cairo and Baghdad under their belt, the Abbasids brought on an era of economic prosperity and peace between the diverse ethnic groups that made up their empire. The “Islamic Style” is noted as being inclusive of the many cultures it interacts with, whether it be paying homage or appropriation. The Abbasids differed from pre-Islamic and Umayyad styles in that they began to imitate the Chinese ceramic designs, specifically Tang period porcelains. Coming into contact with China, the Abbasids were inspired by the opaque white and painterly designs used on ceramics.
The Abbasids mimicked Chinese manufacturing techniques; for example, Bowl with Radial decoration succeeds in imitating opaque white porcelain. This effect was achieved by using a lead-based glaze mixed with tin oxide, a technical achievement for Islamic artisans at the time. “Splashed” Tang ceramics inspired the paint dripping effect design on works such as Ceramic bowl (Hegira 3rd– 4th/ AD 9th–10th century).
Yet, contrary to what the article argues, these “innovative” motifs still contained elements of earlier Islamic styles. Like the Ummayad’s, the Abbasids too included leaves and Kufic calligraphy. The Umayyad’s specialized in “stylized floral motifs, and diverse abstract patterns.” Likewise, the Abbasids were fond of palmettes and stylized-leaf motifs, and calligraphic scripts.
Abbasid ceramics used decorative motifs such as abstract radial decoration, figurative imagery, and kufic. While the Umayyad strayed from using figurative art, they were also fond of calligraphic decoration. Like Ceramic bowl (Hegira 3rd– 4th/ AD 9th–10th century), the Dome of the Rock also features Kufic script that sends messages to its viewers. The Abbasids were by and large not the first to reuse another cultures decorative style. Just as they practiced Chinese ceramics techniques, the Umayyad’s adapted lavish decorative styles from the Sassanian Empire.
While most of the ceramics exhibited feature Chinese-inspired styles, Ceramic jar (Hegira 2nd century / AD 8th century) is an Umayyad vessel. The decorative scheme on the vase was influenced by pre-Islamic designs from Rome and the Iranian Parthian period. Such designs include interlocking circles patterns and stylized vegetal and geometric motifs. The Ummayad Islamic influence is seen in the kufic inscription at the base of the vessel’s neck. Preserved in the palace of Harun al-Rashid at al-Raqqa, this vessel could be a clue to some of the design inspiration the Abbasid’s took from their predecessors. Similarly, the Kufic script written in the center of Ceramic bowl (Hegira 3rd– 4th/ AD 9th–10th century) was a decorative innovation created during the Umayyad period, not the Abbasid. So while the Abbasids did make great advancements in the development of ceramic glazing and decorations, they were not the first to establish a distinct Islamic style.