Height: 8.500 cm
ME OA 1902.5-17.2
Room 34: The Islamic world
Lustre painted bowl
Fatimid dynasty, 11th century
Found at cAtfa, Wasta, on the River Nile, Upper Egypt
Egyptian glassmakers of the Fatimid dynasty (AD 969-1171) produced quantities of fine, thin-bodied and clear glass vessels. They were decorated in a variety of techniques, many of them inherited from the skilled and prolific glass workshops of the Roman period. This small glass bowl is decorated in a technique better known from pottery: lustre. The vessel was painted with a mixture containing copper oxides which fused with the glass when the vessel was heated in a reduction kiln (which limited the oxygen supply). This created a metallic lustrous sheen. It was a skilful process which had been practised in Egypt since the eighth century, if not earlier.
The ribbed glass and lustre rays create a solar design when viewed from below: the bowl may have been used as a lamp, suspended from a collar below the flaring rim.
D.B. Harden and others, The British Museum: masterpiec (London, 1968)