The oriental art of tile making reached its peak in the 15th century, in Herat (Afghanistan). The use of metal oxides in the ceramic paste gave rise to an exuberant decorative panoply of vegetal motifs, enriched with Koranic calligraphy.
Alfiz derives from the Arab term al-ifriz, which is the name given to an ornamental architectural device framing a window or a door. This example, dating from between 1570 and 1580, comes from the Damascus Mosque, built by Suleyman I, the Magnificent. It was acquired by Calouste Gulbenkian, in 1923, and later donated to the MNAA, becoming part of its collection thereafter.