..and how technology was moved from civilization to civilization
The story starts with a battle, the battle of Talas
The battle of Talas
In the aftermath of this battle the Arabs captured a man and his assistants; at their workshops near Samarkand and taken to Baghdad the centre of
Abbassid power and Arab culture. There they remained for eleven years, returning to China in 762. This man was Tou Houan a Chinese master potter and
artisan. He was a leading Chinese craftsman of the T'ang dynasty.
What did Tou Houan do in those eleven years of captivity? There is evidence that he may also have given to the Arabs the ‘secrets’ of Chinese
ceramics, including white glazes and a fine ceramic body that came to be called Samarra ware. These techniques were to later form the basis of
lustreware, the premier ceramic of Islamic craftsman.
When Tou Houan returned to China he wrote a report that stated that he and his colleagues had taught the Abbasid craftsmen several important
techniques, including gold-working, paper-making, textile manufacture, silk manufacture and painting.
This would lead to lustreware
What is lustreware?
The secret to lustreware developed over hundreds of years and the secret was kept by one small group of potters within the Islamic state until the
12th century. The Abu Tahir family of potters was Abu'l Qasim bin Ali bin Muhammed bin Abu Tahir. In the 14th century, Abu'l Qasim was a court
historian to the Mongol kings, where he wrote a number of books. His work on pottery was The Virtues of Jewels and the Delicacies of Perfume, which
included a chapter on ceramics, and, most importantly, describes part of the recipe for lustreware.
Abu'l Qasim wrote that the successful process involved painting copper and silver onto glazed vessels, and then re-firing to produce the lustrous
shine. The alchemy of the lustreware process was uncovered by chemists and archaeologists, who reported their success in the Journal of Archaeological
Scroll thru the link below, going to each of the twelve pages and read the text beneath to get the full story
Link to lustreware images and history
A shorter version, The short version