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HOME : Islamic Art : AS Collection Consignment : Sphero-Conical Vessel
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Sphero-Conical Vessel - JB.1124
Origin: Central Asia
Circa: 10 th Century AD to 12 th Century AD
Dimensions: 7.3" (18.5cm) high x 5.9" (15.0cm) wide
Collection: Islamic
Medium: Earthenware
Condition: Extra Fine

Additional Information: AS

Location: Great Britain
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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 epigrahic 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 AD up to the Mongol invasion (13th century AD), 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. - (JB.1124)


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