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HOME : Islamic Art : AS Collection Consignment : Sphero-Conical Vessel
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Sphero-Conical Vessel - LO.671
Origin: Central Asia
Circa: 9 th Century AD to 12 th Century AD
Dimensions: 8.50" (21.6cm) high
Collection: Islamic Art
Medium: Stoneware

Additional Information: AS

Location: Great Britain
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Cylindrical stoneware vessel with incised epigraphic band in cursive script and small registers of geometric patterns on the body, perhaps recalling contemporary bronze containers or sprinklers. Narrow neck with small everted rim and pointed on its lower part.

Various interpretations have been offered regarding the actual function of such vessels, from grenades, fire-blowers (aeolipiles), to containers of precious liquids or plumb bobs. Indeed recently the Conservation Department of the Institute of Archaeology, University of London, while analysing one sphero-conical vessel, found traces of mercury, thus indicating that some of these objects could have been used to contain mercury. Other authors, relying on epigraphic evidence, have suggested that some of them would have stored beer. What seems logic is that sphero-conical vessels, depending on the shape and material, would have then served different purposes. Not only were they eclectic in function, they also have been found in sites throughout the Middle East up to Central Asia, datable from the 9th century up to the Mongol invasion, attesting to their incredible success as portable carriers of precious substances.

For comparable examples see: G. Fehervari, Ceramic of the Islamic World in the Tarek Rajab Museum, 2000: pp 207-231.

Richard Ettinghausen, 'The Use of sphero- Conical Vessels in the Muslim East', Journal of Near Eastern Studies, XXIV, 1965: 218-229. Sphero-conical vessel, it has an unusual shape with its cylindrical body, pointed below, sloping shoulder and short neck with an everted and sloping rim; the body is decorated with several horizontal registers, the widest one showing a floriated Kufic inscription, framed on top by a narrow band roundels and below with three different bands. Probably Egypt or Syria, Fatimid period, 9th – 12th century. Prof. Geza Fehervari Prof. Geoffrey King - (LO.671)


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