Ancient Glass Blog of The Allaire Collection

FOUR PERSIAN GLASS UNGUENTARIA

Posted in Uncategorized by Allaire Collection of Glass on February 18, 2019

FOUR PERSIAN GLASS UNGUENTARIA

OF The Augustinus Collection of Ancient Glass

Name FOUR PERSIAN GLASS UNGUENTARIA also called: ‘MOLAR FLASKS’

Date: of Islamic era, 9th.-10th. Century A.D.

From:Mesopotamia, Persia, possibly from Fustat, Egypt*

Size: left to right:

a. ↑ 5.51 cm | Ø body: 1.71 cm | Ø mouth : 1.11 cm | Ø base: 1.55 cm| w: 19 g |

b.↑ 6.29 cm | Ø body: 2.19 cm | Ø mouth : 1.32 cm | Ø base: 1.69 cm| w: 19 g |

c. ↑ 5.65 cm | Ø body: 2.09 cm | Ø mouth : 1.05 cm | Ø base: 1.85cm| w: 23 g |

d. ↑ 7.35 cm | Ø body: 2.29 cm | Ø mouth : 1.55 cm | Ø base: 1.90cm| w: 20 g |

 Technique: All four bottles cast as solid blocks of glass, drilled out, then cut with a grinding wheel and polished to form a container or unguentarium for precious perfume or scented oil.

Description: Four bottles of light green glass, that all have square, four sided bodies with hexagonal necks, three of them with four tapering or pyramid-shaped feet at each corner. Decorations on neck and bodies, each with different triangle- and square formed plastic elements, created with a grinding wheel. Glasses a, b and d have tapering necks from the rim towards the body. All four rims are plain.

Condition: In fairly good condition, but weathered, glasses  b and d bear heavy, colorfull iridescence; unguentarium c has lost its feet all together.

Remarks:  Two of the small bottles were carved from green glass, the other two possibly also; cut in a popular shape for cosmetic containers used in medieval Egypt, commonly in modern times referred to as ‘molar flasks’, for the vessels shape is thought to resemble a tooth. The four feet function as a pedestal to the flasks, that could have contained cosmetic unguent and perfume or possibly kohl for eyelining.

  1. S. Auth remarks about the example in the Newark Museum (50.1814), that ‘from their shape, they were probably made as imitations of rock crystal’. The pale green colour of two of the four presented in the Augustinus collection, do resemble crystal indeed or at least chiselled translucent rockstone.

* C.J. Lamm describes in his Glass from Iran (1929/1930/1935), that the ‘molar flasks’ were produced in Egypt because of Egypts renown skills for cutting crystal rock. S. Auth and D. Whitehouse think this idea to be doubtfull, because most of the examples brought to light come from places spread throughout medieval Persia, several from a period of time earlier than the 9th. century A.D.

Provenance: From a private dutch collection; previously unpublished.

Reference: Kelsey Museum of Archeology, 1968.2.13; Corning Museum of Glass: Glass of the Sultans, gift of the Fustat Expedition no: 69.1.42.; Kerstner-Museum Hannover, 1982, no: 156; Fremersdorf, cat. of the Vatikan, no: 912f; La Baume, coll. Loeffler no: 2015.

Literature: C.J.Lamm, Glass from Iran, 1935; Carboni and Whitehouse, Glass of the Sultans , 2001; Fustat Glass of the Early Islamic Period, 2001; Islamic Glass in the Corning Museum of Glass. Vol. 1, 2010.

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