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This striking tile was made in Tehran, by the Iranian master potter Ali Muhammed Isfahani. The painting shows Fitna watching the hunting prowess of the King, Bahrum Gur.

Strong female characters from Persian poetry, such as Fitna, and their integrity served as a model for men encouraging them to be dedicated patriots. 

Underglaze ceramic tile by Ali Muhammad Isfahani, Tehran, Iran, 1887

Figurative tile fact file



Made by

Ali Muhammad Isfahani, commissioned by Robert Murdoch Smith

Made from

Underglaze colour pigments, 

Made in

Tehran, Iran

Museum reference


On display

Artistic Legacies, Level 5, National Museum of Scotland

Did you know?

Ali Muhammad Isfahani’s colourful works were appreciated by a wide range of customers at his time, including the Shah of Iran.

Adding colour to ceramics

Ali Muhammad Isfahani developed new underglaze colours and pigments and sent them, together with this tile, to National Museums Scotland in 1887.

Watch this video to find out how Iranian potters developed new colours for underglaze ceramic painting in the 19th century. 

Tile featuring portrait of Robert Murdoch Smith, from the workshop of Ali Muhammad Isfahani, Tehran, Iran, 1887. IL.2009.14

Tile with portrait of Sasanian King, Ardashir I, Tehran or Isfahan, Iran, c1900, A.1990.202

This tile was commissioned by Robert Murdoch Smith from the Tehran master potter Ali Muhammad. 

Sir Robert Murdoch Smith

Two tiles featured above were commissions of the the master potter Ali Muhammad, by Scotsman Sir Robert Murdoch Smith. Murdoch Smith was one of the most important nineteenth-century collectors of Persian art in the service of public institutions. He began acquiring items for the South Kensington Museum, now the Victoria & Albert Museum, while he was working for the Indo-European Telegraph Department in Iran. He later became the Director of the Edinburgh Museum of Science and Art, now the National Museum of Scotland, where he also built an important collection of Persian art. 

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