Small sphero-conical glass container with signs
of weathering and iridiescent patina. Small
bulging mouth and narrow neck.
The number of extant sphero-conical vessels in
glass is limited and represents only a fraction of
those made of stone and ceramic. In general they
distinguish themselves for their thinner and
more delicate profile, hence excluding a use as
containers for quicksilver or for long distance
The identification as container of fuqqa seems
likely: glass is less porous than pottery and thus
the fermented liquid would have lasted longer
and its odour would have not permeated the
interior through prolongued repetitive use.
The bulged opening of the vessel is typical of the
majority of sphero-conical vessels and was
probably meant for slowly drinking the
The chronological period for the production of
these containers would range from the 10th to
the early 14th century. Without doubt the area of
origin would be the Iranian region, though the
existence of enamelled and gilded objects proves
that the type was adopted by the Ayyubids and
early Mamluk of Syria and Egypt.These 'gourds'
were made for important personalities at the
Mamluk court and given away as diplomatic
presents. They probably symbolised courtly
past-times and libation activities, connected with
the drinking of fuqqa or other intoxicaitng
For related works see:
Stefano Carboni, Glass from the Islamic Lands,
London 2001: Cat.53b, p.213.
Sphero-conical vessel, mould-blown dark green
glass with tooled decoration; it has a heart-shaped
body decorated with cut honeycomb patterns,
short neck which opens up and terminates in a
Iran, 10th – 11th century.
Ht. 10.4cm; Top diam. 2.5cm.
Comparative material: Carboni, cat.no.3b, inv.no.
LNS 1064 G, pp.211, 213.
Prof. Geza Fehervari
Prof. Geoffrey King