Ceramic bowl with a bird pecking a tree

Ceramic bowl with a bird pecking a tree
  • Code:  ΒΚ 4519/192
  • Type:  Ceramic bowl
  • Chronology:  late 13th-14th c
  • Dimensions:  Height 8.3 cm; rim diameter 14.3 cm; base diameter 5.7cm
  • Materials of Construction:  Clay
  • Origin:  Thessaloniki

Glazed ceramic bowl with ring foot, hemispherical body, and splaying rim. White slip on the interior and upper part of the exterior surface is covered by shiny yellow glaze. The decoration is carefully executed in the fine sgraffito and champlevé techniques. A bird is depicted on the bottom of the bowl, turned toward the right and pecking at stylized leaf or tree. Behind the bird are a trefoil motif inscribed in a circle and two lozenges with oblique hatching. Four parallel lines mark the bowl’s perimeter on the interior, with two on the exterior. Traces of the bowl’s adhering to an adjacent vase during firing are visible on the exterior. The imprint of a clay tripod at the bottom indicates that the bowl was stacked with other similar bowls to save space in the kiln.

The discovery at Thessaloniki of pottery wares decorated with similar birds pecking at a leaf or tree and of a relatively large number of vessels with this motif led to its association with local workshops and local Late Byzantine production. Accordingly, vessels with the same motif from other regions were also considered products or imitations of vessels produced in Thessaloniki. However, recent excavations for the construction of the metropolitan railway in Istanbul uncovered similar vessels, some unfinished, which were attributed to the ceramic workshops of Sirkeci in Istanbul. Chemical analysis showed a different composition than that of the Thessaloniki vessels, thus demonstrating a parallel production of similar vessels in the ceramic workshops of both Thessaloniki and Constantinople.