Height: 15.000 cm
ME OA 1978.10-11.2
Room 34: The Islamic world
Yellowish glass flask
From Egypt or Syria, 9th-10th century AD
With gold and silver 'sandwich' decoration
This small glass flask has a spherical gold-decorated body and a straight facet-cut neck. The distinctive shape can be seen in another glass flask of this period, in The British Museum, which has also been attributed to Fatimid Egypt (AD 969-1171).
The body features a central frieze of gold foil decoration, of alternating upright palmette leaves and tall sprouting shoots. Single dots of blue enamel are dabbed in between the gold vegetation. Under the base is the image of a dove, in silver foil. The decoration is applied using a technique mastered by Roman glass-makers in the fourth century AD, known as 'sandwich glass', in which the decoration is applied between two layers of glass. Unlike Roman gold-glass, this Islamic piece is also decorated with blue enamel.
Fatimid glass-makers also used a different technique of applying metallic decoration to glass objects, and produced beautiful lustre-painted glass objects.
A. Contadini, Fatimid art at the Victoria an (Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1998)
H. Tait (ed.), Five thousand years of glass (London, The British Museum Press, 1991)