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:: year 6, Issue 22 (2-2023) ::
Parseh J Archaeol Stud 2023, 6(22): 253-281 Back to browse issues page
The Iconography of the Camel Symbol Illustrated on the Polychrome Enobe Pottery Attributed to the Neishabur
Nasrin Beik-Mohammadi1, Khalil-Ollah Beik-Mohammadi * 2, Azar Sarmadijou3
1- Archeology Ph.D. Student, Department of Archaeology, Faculty of Conservation and Restoration, Isfahan Art University, Isfahan, Iran.
2- PhD in Archaeology, Expert in Charge of Research and Education Office of Hamedan Province, Hamedan, Iran , khalil_bm@yahoo.com
3- Ph.D. in Ancient Languages, Expert of Iranology Foundation, Hamadan Branch, Hamadan, Iran.
Abstract:   (375 Views)
The Polychrome Enobe pottery attributed to Neishabour is one of the unique pottery of the Islamic era, which has many divers and symbolic motifs. According to the role of the ingredients of these pottery, they were created in deep connection with the mythological and religious beliefs of the people of the third and fourth centuries AH; Therefore, the correct interpretation of these pottery designs helps to understand the social, cultural, political and religious conditions of the people of that time. One of the illustrated symbols on these pottery is the symbol of a camel, which is drawn on a Polychrome bowl and is kept in the Reza Abbasi Museum. The camel drawn on this pottery is important because it seems to be indicative of deep concepts regarding the sanctification of “Camel” in Neishabur society. Until now, no purposeful study has been done to interpret the depicted camel on this pottery; Therefore, the authors are trying to study the symbol of the camel depicted on the pottery in this essay with “Iconography” method with the approach of “Erwin Panofsky”. To achieve this goal, the questions; what is the symbolic meaning of the camel depicted on the Polychrome bowl of Neishabur in relation to the jar and the bird? The Polychrome Enobe bowl with the motif of a camel, in combination with other motifs, is derived from the beliefs of which stratum of society is Neishabur? It has been suggested that in order to get the answers to the questions, the research method adopted for the future research is a library with a descriptive-analytical-historical approach, in which the discussed pottery motifs are analyzed first, and then to interpret its symbol with Panofsky’s three-step method. The result of the study of the camel symbol is that the motif of a camel with a jar under its belly and a hoopoe bird seems to be derived from the principles of Zoroastrian purification and also the Gomiz healing properties of camels among the Muslims of 3rd and 4th centuries AH living the north east of Iran. 
Keywords: Iconography, Pottery, Polychrome Enobe, Neishabur, Camel, Gomiz.

The Polychrome Enobe pottery attributed to Neishabur is one of the most important and unique pottery produced in northeastern Iran after the arrival of Islam in terms of diverse and symbolic motifs. In addition to visual beauty, the patterns of the above pottery always have a special place in the studies of researchers in the field of art, especially archeology, due to the fact that they have special and symbolic scenes. The importance of studying the reinterpretation and origin of Polychrome Enobe patterns is due to the fact the researchers such as Lin (1948), Wilkinson (1973), Zack Nissen (1973) and Samavaki (2021) believe that the motifs of, the works on these pottery are often in deep connection with the mythological and religious beliefs of the people of the 3rd and 4th centuries AH. The symbolic concept of the camel with the symbols of the evil eye, which destroys demonic forces, finds more expression for the interpretation of the sanctification of Gomiz. A Polychrome Enobe bowl attributed to Neishabur with a camel motif and the symbolic concept of the sacredness of the camel cannot be applied to a specific stratum.  According to this belief, it is derived from the beliefs of the people as a result of the fusion of Zoroastrian religion with Islam as a result of political events parallel to the Abbasid rule in the third and fourth centuries of AH and was deliberately created by Zoroastrians, changed the Gomiz of a camel, a sacred animal in the Muslim belief, to cow Gomiz in order to preserve the tradition of purification, and it seems that they were able to preserve this tradition for themselves. With this reasoning, the mentioned bowl has a double meaning in the belief of Muslims and Zoroastrians; In a way, the special place of “camel “among the common people of the third and fourth centuries AH by drawing a camel and other figure such as a bird, a jar and the symbol of the evil eye, draw a picture. 

The Iconography of the Camel Symbol Depicted on the Polychrome Enobe Pottery Attributed to Neishabur 
In this part of the research, which is also the main body of the research; The symbol role of the camel in connection with other motifs in the Polychrome Enobe bowl of Reza Abbasi Museum is studied with the iconography method in three stages of description, analysis and interpretation. The bowl Polychrome Enobe attributed to Neishabur under the registration number of 1371 is kept in the Reza Abbasi Museum. In the central circle of the bowl, a camel with a single hump can be seen in light brown color with a six- petals flower pattern on the body with an embossed background. On the body of the camel, three curved lines are drawn near the front and back legs. The head and face of this camel is depicted upward and clinging to its hump with a big eye on its face. The camel ‘s tail is black with a few short branches and its hoovers are clearly marked with black inks, and there are two parallel blabk lines on the camel ‘s left hand near the neck, which may be a sign of decoration. To the left of the camel, a bird with a long abstract crown, which is probably a hoopoe can be seen. The head of this bird is light brown and its body is black with wings with a black checkered pattern on the body.  Under the camel ‘s belly, there is an image of a jar with a long base and a wider base compared to the mouth of the jar, in black color. On the body of this jar, there are four flowers and two abstract wings on both sides of the jar. On both sides of the jar, two circles are drawn with a dot in the middle, which seems to be a symbol of the evil eye. It should be mentioned that these circles that look like evil eye are distributed in the entire field of the dish. In front of the camel ‘s neck, there is a flower in the form of a Slimi. Also, in front of the camel ‘s neck and legs, a pseudo-inscription can be seen in back. Around the legs, hands and top of the camel’s head, four and six features’ flowers are drawn in pea color dots in the middle of each flower. A narrow light brown band surrounds the central circle. There is a pea color background with green and black coloured spots, with the symbol of the evil eye (fig 1). 

Research to reread the symbolic meaning hidden in the symbol of the camel depicted on a Polychrome Enobe bowl attributed to Neishabur by posing questions: what is the symbolic meaning of a camel depicted on a Polychrome Enobe bowl of Neishabur in relation to the jar and the bird? And the Polychrome Enobe bowl with the motif of the camel, in combination with other motifs, is derived from the beliefs of which segment of the Neishabur society? The idea of the research in line with the questions posed by Panofsky’s iconography method was that the camel has had a special and mythical place in the opinions and beliefs of people in different periods of history. This scared place of the camel can be traced in the third and fourth centuries of AH with the symbolic motif of the camel in the Polychrome bowl attributed to Neishabur. The symbolic meaning of the camel depicted on this pottery refers to the beliefs of Zoroastrians and Muslims about the cleansing and therapeutic properties of camel Gomiz in the third and fourth centuries AH of the living in the north east of Iran. This opinion takes on more expression by combining the motifs of the jar with two abstract wings, the head (pointing at the camel’s hump) and the symbol of the evil eye; so that the two abstract wings drawn on the body of the jar refer to the sacred aspect of camel’s Gomiz in the belief of the common people. Hoopoe, with the symbolic meaning of the pike, is a manifestation of God Soroush to destroy demonic/ satanic forces. 
Article number: 10
Keywords: Iconography, Pottery, Polychrome Enobe, Neishabur, Camel, Gomiz.
Full-Text [PDF 1242 kb]   (105 Downloads)    
Type of Study: Research | Subject: Special Archeology
Received: 2022/10/23 | Accepted: 2022/12/20 | Published: 2023/02/20
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Beik-Mohammadi N, Beik-Mohammadi K, Sarmadijou A. (2023). The Iconography of the Camel Symbol Illustrated on the Polychrome Enobe Pottery Attributed to the Neishabur. Parseh J Archaeol Stud. 6(22), 253-281. doi:10.30699/PJAS.6.22.253
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