Pouring Spout and Ornate Thumb Rest

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Pouring spout and ornate thumb rest 10th–12th centuries, Egypt Blown and cut glass Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, 1970.3.60

Pouring spout and ornate thumb rest

Even in their fragmentary condition, this pouring spout and thumb rest are beautiful in their translucent purity. The intricately carved piece would have been situated at the top of a handle on a glass pitcher, where it would have functioned to steady the hand while pouring. While any small piece of glass would have sufficed for this purpose, this thumb rest is highly ornamental, making it as beautiful as it is practical. The colorless glass and the chiseled pattern resemble rock-cut crystal, which was also employed to make such vessels. It is possible that glass carved in this manner was intended to mimic crystal, a more delicate and difficult to carve luxury material that in Islamic thought was analogized to petrified water.

Bibliography: Scanlon and Pinder-Wilson 2001, 99–104, fig. 43f; Bloom 2007, 101–105; Contadini 1998, 16–38; and Shalem 1994, 3.

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