Iridescent Glass Vessel Fragments

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Iridescent glass vessel fragments 8th–9th centuries, Fustat (medieval Cairo), Egypt Scratch-engraved glass Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, 1970.3.514 and 1970.3.515

Vessel Fragment with Cupbearer Blazon

KM 1970.3.514

Vessel Fragment with Cupbearer Blazon

KM 1970.3.515

These two glass vessel fragments share a rich aubergine color, and both are ornamented through an engraving or scratching technique. While this decorative process antedates the advent of Islam in Egypt, the deep blue-purple color was particularly popular among Muslim craftsmen. The designs were scratched into the surface of the dark colored glass with a pointed tool, resulting in light-colored geometric striations. This type of freehand "sketching" technique in glass allows for a great flexibility of designs, including crystalline patterns, floral motifs, and cloud bands.

Bibliography: Carboni and Whitehouse 2001, 155–162, figs. 68 and 72; Carboni 2001, 76, cat. no. 17a; Jenkins 1986, 19; Scanlon and Pinder-Wilson 2001; and Pinder-Wilson and Scanlon 1973.

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