This arch-shaped tile is an example of the opulence of Timurid (1370–1507) architectural decoration in Central Asia that can be seen in Timur’s (or Tamerlane’s) mausoleum (circa 1400–04) or the royal necropolis of Shah-e Zendeh in Samarqand in present-day Uzbekistan. Here, the artist demonstrates an immense skill by combining two techniques of carving and rendering them in the typical palette of Timurid architectural decoration: turquoise, blue, and white. The turquoise frame has an abstract vegetal motif of a continuously unfolding vine that was deeply hand-carved into the surface of the tile. This frame surrounds a perfectly balanced geometric interlace with a star pattern incised in its central field. The carving was done while the tile was still soft, with the glazing applied in the form of powdered minerals fused into shiny glazes of different colours when baked in the kiln.
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