Soltan-abad, today known as Arak, was quite famous in 13th-14th century AD for its under-glaze painted
ceramic. These handsome, diversely decorated vessels, known in generic terms as
Soltan-abad ceramic, adorn the museums in Iran, Europe, USA, etc, and have been studied by a large number of scholars. The gray type among these has been identified as characteristic of this city's production in 14th century AD.
We can subdivide under-glaze painted pottery of
Soltan-abad into their categories:
1- Under-glaze painted vessels decorated in a manner similar to that used in Kashan, with the difference that
Soltan-abad potters more often used triangular and vegetal patterns radiating from the center of the vessel. These vessels are decorated with indigo and black patterns under the glaze.
2- Vessels decorated under transparent glaze, with black patterns slightly in relief on a gray background. These patterns include representations of birds and animals, depicted at the center of the vessel and surrounded by floral motifs, and inscriptions appear on the outside of the vessel. Forms of the vessels have also changed: They now have a ring-shaped base, a deeply striated hemispherical body and a flaring rim, and their decoration involves monochrome glaze.
3- Delicate vessels made of white pseudo-porcelain paste and decorated with indigo, black and turquoise-colored patterns, with black often covering the outside of vessel. It is notable that some of these vessels are dated. Two specimens, belonging to 13th century AD and preserved in Metropolitan Museum, are dated 1273 AD and 1278 AD.
Another type of under-glaze painted pottery produced at the time involved a blue and black decoration commonly known as Silhouette. Examples of this type, in which festive scenes, hunting campaigns and musical representations are depicted in shining black on deep blue, were produced in Kashan, Rey, Jorjan and Northwestern Iran.
In the 13th century AD, besides under-glaze painted pottery, other types of vessels, in which the decoration was painted over the glaze, were also produced in
Soltan-abad and indeed rivaled those produced in Neishabour, Rey, Saveh, Kashan, Takht
Solomon and Soltanieh. These were mostly luster-painted, golden, glass-like (Minai or Haft-Rang) and indigo-colored gilded vessels.
Investigations have shown that these vessels were fired twice: Once after the background was ready, and a second time after the decoration was painted. This was necessary to prevent the colors from 'running' against the background. There is evidence to show that Soltanabad was unable to keep abreast with such centers as Kashan, Jorjan, Rey and Saveh in the production of luster-painted and glass-like pottery.
Nevertheless, it was able to acquire considerable fame for it's gray, wares with under-glaze painted relief patterns of spanning birds and Iranian Rocs.