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HOME : Islamic Art : AS Collection Consignment : Sphero-Conical Unglazed Vessel
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Sphero-Conical Unglazed Vessel - LO.694
Origin: Central Asia
Circa: 9 th Century AD to 12 th Century AD
Dimensions: 5.75" (14.6cm) high
Collection: Islamic Art
Style: Early Islamic
Medium: Stoneware

Additional Information: AS

Location: Great Britain
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Sphero-conical greyish green stoneware vessel with a narrow neck with small everted rolled rim, pointed on its lower part. The upper part carries a row of stamped and carved medallions featuring what seems to be a horse carrying a bird. Traces of yet another band of stamped floral designs appear on the widest part of the body.

Various interpretations have been offered regarding the actual function of such vessels, from grenades, fire-blowers (aeolipiles), to containers of precious liquids or plumb bobs. Indeed recently the Conservation Department of the Institute of Archaeology, University of London, while analysing one sphero-conical vessel, found traces of mercury, thus indicating that some of these objects could have been used to contain mercury. Other authors, relying on epigraphic evidence, have suggested that some of them would have stored beer. What seems logic is that sphero-conical vessels, depending on the shape and material, would have then served different purposes. Not only were they eclectic in function, they also have been found in sites throughout the Middle East up to Central Asia, datable from the 9th century up to the Mongol invasion, attesting to their incredible success as portable carriers of precious substances.

For comparable examples see: G. Fehervari, Ceramic of the Islamic World in the Tarek Rajab Museum, 2000: pp 207-231.

Richard Ettinghausen, 'The Use of sphero- Conical Vessels in the Muslim East', Journal of Near Eastern Studies, XXIV, 1965: 218-229. Sphero-conical vessel, stoneware with carved decoration showing series of walking animals within round medallions on the shoulder. Iran or Central Asia, 9th – 12th century. Prof. Geza Fehervari Prof. Geoffrey King - (LO.694)


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