Given the elaborate nature of the decoration on
many of the Islamic bowls, dishes, ewers and
forms of utilitarian pottery it made sense for
to create moulds from which many copies could
easily and efficiently made for commercial
In fact there were even master moulds made
which “negatives” (a series of moulds for
dissemination among commercial potters) were
produced. The master mould would show all the
decoration as it would appear on the final item.
“Negative would show the decoration in mirror
image and reversed so that relief decoration
show as incised and decoration that would show
incised on the final object would show in relief
the negative mould.
In categorizing moulds we might say that there
moulds made to shape each of the top and the
bottom of vessels as well as the inside and the
outside of vessels.
The master mould would be formed in clay and
fired in the shape of and with the design looking
like the final item would. It would then be used
generate the negative moulds. Soft clay would
pressed around the master and then separated
splitting the negative mould either horizontally or
vertically. These negatives would in turn be
create impressions in two or more parts that
be attached together, often creating visible
on the final item.
The making and supplying of moulds became a
distinct trade, with skilled designers able to
numerous workshops, enabling them to make
of a quality they would not manage on their own.
Ceramic moulds have to be made of an
material that dries the surface of the clay pushed
into it, causing it to shrink slightly and detach
the mould walls. The moulded piece can then be
removed from the mould without sticking or
spoiling. The mould would then have to be dried
before being used again. This would be a
slow process even in a hot climate.
This Master would have been used to create
moulds of the upper half of a vessel such as a
pitcher. The top of the soft clay impression
have been cut away and have a neck or spout
attached to it. The bottom would have been
attached to a complementary bowl-like molded
piece. The sharpness of the incised calligraphy
simple mottled dots make this an elegant and