Glass, Rock Crystal and Jade
Beaker With Handle
10th century CE
Materials and technique
Glass; free blown, tooled, and linear cut, handle applied
Height 11 cm; Ø 12.2 cm
Islamic glassmaking grew out of a tradition begun in the first century BCE in the Syro-Palestinian region, where molten glass was inflated with a blowpipe and manipulated into desired forms with special tools. Craftsmen had discovered how to create glass through the transformation of raw materials prior to this period, as early as the third millennium BCE; however, until about 50 BCE, they were forming glass around a removable core or using casting moulds, which required much time and labour and thus resulted in less overall production. This handled beaker, made of a flattened globular body with a low circular foot, a slightly flared cylindrical neck, and a fan-shaped thumb-rest, recalls similarly shaped pitchers attributed to Iran or Central Asia in the 10th-11th century and believed to have been used as measuring vessels (see, for example, Carboni 2001, pp. 148-49, cat. 36b). This object also exhibits a wheel cut design of waves and chevron patterns around the neck and body bordered with double lines. Glass cutting began in Iran under the Sasanians (226-651 CE) and continued uninterrupted until at least the eleventh century. Most of the time, objects were decorated using the intaglio technique, where the glass surface is incised beneath the surface, or through relief cutting, where the surface is ground away around the desired pattern in relief (ibid., p. 71).
© 2007 The Aga Khan Development Network. This is the only authorised Website of the Aga Khan Development Network.