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Kashan Revisited: A Luster-Painted Ceramic Tombstone Inscribed with a Chronogram Poem by Muhtasham Kashani

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The production site(s) of luster-painted ceramics from the fifteenth century onward have yet to be precisely identified due to a paucity of material and textual evidence regarding ceramic production during this period. This study focuses on a hitherto undeciphered Persian poem, which was inconspicuously inscribed in the unskilled nastaʿlīq script on a luster-painted ceramic tombstone dated 25 Jumada II 967 (March 23, 1560). This poem can be identified as a qiṭʿa by Muhtasham Kashani (d. 1588), a renowned court poet who spent his entire life in Kashan. The identification of this poem is particularly important for two reasons. First, it may imply that luster-painted ceramics were produced in Kashan during the early Safavid period. Second, it suggests that there is indeed potential for using epitaphs as historical sources, as the poem in question sheds valuable light on the editing process of Haft dīvān, as well as on the social context of the growing popularity of chronogram poems in Iran during this period.

Affiliations: 1: The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan

The present article, drawn from my M.Phil. dissertation (supervised by Prof. Oliver Watson) submitted to the University of Oxford in June 2015, is based on a paper presented at the 57th annual meeting of the Society for Near Eastern Studies in Japan (Hokkaido University, October 18, 2015). I am grateful to Prof. Akira Akiyama, Prof. Nobuaki Kondo, Dr. Cailah Jackson, Prof. Tomoko Masuya, Dr. Kazuo Morimoto, Dr. Yoichi Takamatsu, and the anonymous reviewer for their helpful comments and valuable suggestions on an earlier version of this article. I would also like to express my gratitude to Professor Gülru Necipoğlu, Ms. A. Ezgi Dikici, András Riedlmayer, and Dr. Maria Metzler for their editorial suggestions. This work was supported by JSPS Institutional Program for Young Researcher Overseas Visits, Keidanren Ishizaka Memorial Foundation, and JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number 15J10363.

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