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HOME : Byzantine Art : Byzantine Masterpieces : Byzantine-Islamic Glass Jar
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Byzantine-Islamic Glass Jar - SP.110 (LSO)
Origin: Palestine
Circa: 500 AD to 900 AD
Dimensions: 3.75" (9.5cm) high
Collection: Byzantine Art
Medium: Glass

Location: UAE
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This beautifully intricate and elegant piece of glass pertains to the Islamic period, and was made on the Levantine Coast of the Middle East. Glass has a long and varied history in this region, where it was originally moulded and sculpted before the development of glass-blowing in the first century BC. This technique gave considerable freedom to create new and varied forms, and glassmaking practices were subsequently refined by Alexandrian, Syrian, Byzantine and Sassanian craftsmen before they were inherited by artists of the Islamic period. However, the Islamic period was also one of innovation, with the development of advanced glass cutting, moulding, decorating, gilding, painting and dyeing processes that went on to define technological and stylistic parameters in the Renaissance following the Crusades, and indeed many subsequent glassmaking traditions.

This piece is probably an unguent pot, and would certainly have contained something of considerable value, intended for a prestigious audience. It is free-blown, with a rounded, thick-walled body and a flaring conical mouth. The ground is amber in colour, with opaque white and red marvered threads wound spirally and tooled into a widely-spaced festoon pattern. The threading pattern – while not necessarily unique – is characteristic of stylistic traditions in Syria, rather than the Abbasid tradition of glass engraving, or the Mesopotamian linear intaglio and relief cutting methods. The threads are polychrome, with a careful ordering of contrasting hues that lift the composition and lend a fluidly elegant yet geometrically pleasing effect. This is an attractive and well-executed example of the ancient glass blowers’ skill, which deserves a prominent place in any serious collection of Islamic glass. - (SP.110 (LSO))


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