The J. Paul Getty Museum

Jar with a Kufic Pattern

Object Details


Jar with a Kufic Pattern






Montelupo, Italy (Place Created)


mid-15th century


Tin-glazed earthenware

Object Number:



18.1 × 9.5 × 13 cm (7 1/8 × 3 3/4 × 5 1/8 in.)

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Object Description

The cylindrical shape, narrow neck and waist, and tapering foot of this piece are typical characteristics of the albarello (drug jar). The small handle is an unusual addition and its function has yet to be explained. It may have been used to suspend the piece for storage or possibly to tie together a group of similar drug jars on a shelf.

The decoration on this drug jar, including Chinese scrolling patterns, Islamic knotwork and hatched fields, and Kufic script, shows an interesting mixture of Near and Far Eastern influences. Kufic calligraphy, an angular form of the Arabic alphabet, was well known in Italy, especially Tuscany, thanks to the spread of small and easily portable items decorated with the script, such as fabrics, leatherwork, and ceramics. This Kufic script decoration, although fancified and illegible, added an exotic decorative element to the design, which Italian consumers would have appreciated without being able to read.

- 1976

Dr. Joseph Chompret, born 1869 (Paris, France) [sold, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, December 15, 1976, lot 19, to Rainer Zietz Limited.]

1976 - 1984

Rainer Zietz Limited, sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1984.

The Arts of Fire: Islamic Influences on the Italian Renaissance (May 4 to September 5, 2004)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), May 4 to September 4, 2004
Artful Words: Calligraphy in Illuminated Manuscripts (December 18, 2018 to April 7, 2019)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), December 18, 2018 to April 7, 2019