Bowl, earthenware, painted in blue on opaque white glaze, 9th century
It was no accident that slipped tin and lead onto an earthenware skin— rather, a someone who knew how to bring the white clouds down to sit on the clay. One trader may buy up the whole lot for its novelty, no telling, but the maker had a bigger game in mind. Tin for Jupiter, lead for Saturn, fired hotter than a kiln, forge-hot, melting Venus’s copper cestus if she’d let it; and then slow to cool. Alchemy turned the pottery gloss white, the perfect ground for figures and brushwork—something tough enough to take the flame and not crack in two, and yet a thing too fragile for a trader’s carpet-packing.