This intricately decorated plate is a faithful reproduction of an original faience tray crafted in Dvin during the 11th–12th centuries. Dvin, a significant cultural and commercial center during the medieval period, has a rich history that is beautifully captured in the art and artifacts originating from the city.
The Central Image
At the center of the plate is an arresting image: a winged lion crowned with regality, but bearing a woman’s face. This composite creature is none other than the mythological sphinx, a symbol often associated with mystery, power, and wisdom. The representation on the plate encapsulates a unique blend of mythical imagination and intricate craftsmanship, creating a focal point that invites viewers to ponder its significance and the skill of the artisans who created it.
Surrounding the central sphinx are elaborate motifs of leaves and stems, giving a sense of natural life enveloping the mythical creature. The detailing is intricate, displaying the high level of craftsmanship typical of Dvin artisans during this period. Additional decoration comes in the form of coils, adding texture and complexity to the overall design.
The original tray from which this plate is reproduced was made from faience, a glazed non-clay ceramic material that has been used for decorative purposes for centuries. The bright, glass-like surface of faience makes it an ideal medium for detailed painting, as evidenced by the vivid colors and intricate patterns on this plate.
The plate with the image of a sphinx is more than just a decorative item; it serves as a window into the artistic and cultural landscape of 11th–12th century Dvin. It is a testament to the skill and imagination of the artisans of the time, and a symbol of the rich tapestry of myths, materials, and motifs that characterized the period. This piece is not just an artifact; it is a storyteller, holding within its curves and colors the echoes of a distant past.
Image Source: historymuseum.am