The first indigenous Muslim dynasty to rule Iran
following the Arab conquest, the Samanid
Dynasty was founded in 819 A.D. by Saman-
Khuda, a Persian vassal of the Abbasid Empire.
However, not until the reign of Saman-Khuda’s
great-grandson, Ismail I (892-907 A.D.), did
Samanid power become extensive, eventually
spreading outside of Iran and into Central Asia.
The coins of the Samanids were used throughout
North Asia, revealing their enormous influence
on the region. Today, the Samanid Dynasty is
renown as a time of cultural flourishing,
especially in regards to the arts of poetry and
pottery. The capital of Bukhara was also one of
the cultural centers of the empire, along with the
cities of Samarkand and Nishapur. Perhaps their
most important influence on Islamic art was the
Samanid innovation of slip painting that allowed
for more refined, controlled glazed decorations
on terracotta vessels and tiles. The Samanid
Dynasty was a period of nationalism, where the
Persian people regained power from the hands of
foreign invaders. While Samanid power gradually
waned throughout the 10th century in response
to the rise of Turkic power in Central Asia and
Afghanistan, during their rule the foundations of
a native Iranian Islamic culture were firmly
Slip painted dish with red ground slip on
which a pseudo-kufic circular inscription in
yellow and dark brown has been applied along
the rim. The Kufic characters are repeat letters of
'Alef' and 'Ra', or the second could be a 'nun'.
Similar examples came to light at afrasiyab near
Samarkand and also at Nishapur.
Bowl, slip-painted “ buff” or polychrome ware.
Coated with a red engobe on which the
was painted in white, black and olive-green.
is a round medallion at the base formed by a
band which has series of double white trefoils
confronting each other; the cavetto carries an
epigraphic band, repeating one word in olive-
which may be read as da’im. Another band of
double white trefoils run around the rim.
Central Asia, probably Afrasiyab, 10th century.
Prof. Geza Fehravari
Prof. Geoffrey King