Width: 15.700 cm
ME OA 1906.7-19.1
Room 34: The Islamic world
Fragments of a yellowish glass flask
From Syria or Jazira, AD 1127-46
With an inscription relating to cImad al-Din Zangi II
These are the fragments of a gilded glass flask. The gold was applied as gold dust in suspension with an adhesive, and then lightly fired in order to make the gold suspension bond with the surface of the glass. The details of the decoration are scratched through the gold with a needle. This technique seems to have replaced lustre-painted glass after the eleventh century.
The gilding is divided into three horizontal registers. The upper and lower bands of the flask are decorative. Although fragmentary, the upper band shows two dancing women playing music (on a harp and a castanet), between pomegranate trees. The lower band depicts eagles with outspread wings, also between pomegranate trees. The middle band bears a cursive inscription which names cImad al-Din Zangi II, ruler of Sinjar, in modern Iraq (1171-97) and Aleppo in Syria (1181-83).
The Zangid rulers began as regents, or atabegs (Turkish for 'father of the prince) of the Seljuk in Jazira (in modern Iraq) and Syria. The atabeg was appointed as the guardian and tutor of a young Seljuk prince, and ruled the region assigned to the young prince until he came of age. As the Seljuk Empire weakened, the atabegs grew in power, and often claimed the regions they governed as their own, establishing local dynasties between 1127 and 1251. cImad al-Din Zangi , for whom this glass was made, was Atabeg of Mosul (1127-46)
R. Ward (ed.), Gilded and enamelled glass fro (London, The British Museum Press, 1998)
B. Brend, Islamic art (London, The British Museum Press, 1991)
D. Morgan, Medieval Persia 1040-1797 (London and New York, Longman, 1988)