Hedwig glass beaker

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On display

Hedwig glass beaker

Probably made in Syria, 12th century AD

Hedwig glass beaker

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This is one of the biggest and finest 'Hedwig glasses', so called because they are said to have belonged to the Silesian Princess Saint Hedwig (1174-1245).


Hedwig's abstention from wine made her husband, Henry I 'the Bearded', anxious for her health. However, one day he saw the water in her glass turn into wine as she lifted it to drink. In later centuries, a number of glass vessels in Germany were claimed to have been hers and to have miraculous properties.

The origin of the group of glasses has been much disputed, but the renowned rock crystal and glass cutting schools of Syria and Egypt could well have produced these magnificent examples of medieval glass.

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Object details

Height: 14.3 cm
Width: 13.9 cm

 

ME OA 1959.4-14.1

Room 34: The Islamic world

     

    Purchased with funds from the Brooke Sewell Bequest

    References

    H. Tait (ed.), Five thousand years of glass (London, The British Museum Press, 1991)

    B. Brend, Islamic art (London, The British Museum Press, 1991)

    See this object in our Collection database online

    K. Erdmann, ‘An Unknown Hedwig Glass’, Burlington Magazine, 91 (1949), 244–9

    M. Goodrich, ‘The Politics of Canonisation in the Thirteenth Century: Lay and Mendicant Saints’, Church History, 44 (1975), 294–307

    G. Klaniczay, Holy Rulers and Blessed Princesses: Dynastic Cults in Medieval Central Europe (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2002)

    R. Lierke, Die Hedwigsbecher – Das Normannisch-sicilische Erbe der Staufischen (Mainz, 2005)

    R.H. Pinder-Wilson, ‘A Hedwig Glass for the Museum’, British Museum Quarterly, 22 (1960), 43–5

    K.H. Wedepohl, et al., ‘A Hedwig Beaker Fragment from Brno (Czech Republic)’, Journal of Glass Studies, 49 (2007), 266–8