Bridgman, Rebecca and Earl, Graeme,
Experiencing lustre: polynomial texture mapping of medieval pottery at the Fitzwilliam Museum
Matthews, Roger, Curtis, John, Symour, Michael, Fletcher, Alexandra, Gascoigne, Alison, Glatz, Claudia, Simpson, St. John, Taylor, Helen, Tubb, Jonathan and Chapman, Rupert (eds.)
In Proceedings of the 7th International Congress of the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East (7th ICAANE). [Vol.2] Ancient & Modern Issues in Cultural Heritage. Colour & Light in Architecture, Art & Material Culture. Islamic Archeology.
Harrasowitz. 727 pp, .
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The surfaces of lustre ware ceramics, famously produced at numerous centres in the medieval world, are commonly decorated with shiny, metallic designs. Other related and contemporary ceramic types, such as polychrome mina’i wares, were embellished with gold leaf producing a similar effect. In today’s museum settings, the display of such objects is problematic because it is difficult to illustrate one of their most attractive qualities, namely how light interacts with their shiny, golden surfaces. Even with the provision of multiple conventional photographs, it remains virtually impossible to experience fully the light-related properties of lustred or gilded ceramics without handling the objects in person. This paper presents results of a study which used polynomial texture mapping (or PTM) to record the texture, surface reflectance and colour of selected lustre and mina’i wares from the Islamic pottery collection at The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. In addition, the paper considers how computer graphic techniques will assist such work in the future. Results of the study reveal how, through the creation of surface visualisations using PTM, it is possible to reveal the effects of varying lighting on the surfaces of lustre and mina’i wares, thus creating an alternative to handling these objects. In the future, through this technique, it will be possible not only to appreciate such ceramics in their modern setting, but also to consider how they may have been experienced by past societies.
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