Bowl with blue decoration
Iraq, probably Basra
Tin-glazed earthenware, with decoration painted into the glaze. Restored from excavated fragments.
Museum no. Circ.175-1926
After 750, a direct sea route linked Iraq with China, and fine Chinese ceramics were imported for the first time. Wishing to imitate Chinese whitewares, Iraqi potters invented an opaque, white tin glaze to mask their darker earthenware. This technique later spread across the Middle East to Europe, remaining in use for centuries.
By adding decoration in cobalt blue, Iraqi potters created the world's first blue-and-white ceramics.