Some years ago a rectangular ceramic panel appeared at auction in London and made its way to Boston (fig. 1). The object was purchased by Cornelius C. Vermeule III, who placed it on loan to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. The technical term in English to describe the fabric of this kind of ceramic is “African Red Slip” ware—abbreviated ARS. The term was coined by John Hayes, a scholar who has done important work in classifying these wares. In Italian, the name that is used is “terra sigillata chiara” or “light terra sigillata,” to distinguish it from “terra sigillata,” its counterpart in Italy and Gaul. The latter has a deep-red color and a high-gloss surface, while the African variety is less shiny and light orange in color.
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