Ancient Greece, Classical period, ca. late 6th to 5th century BCE. A gorgeous example of a core-formed glass aryballos (perfume bottle) of a squat yet elegant form. The vessel bears a sloped shoulder, a pair of curling trail loops, a flared rim, and a near spherical body. The opaque blue body is embellished with rings of opaque yellow-orange glass, a white-and-blue feathered motif encircling the midsection, additional yellow and pale blue rings around the base, and another pale blue ring that constitutes the lip of the rim. Areas of brilliant silvery and rainbow-hued iridescence have formed across the composition and nicely complement the vessel's vibrant colors. Size: 2.1" W x 2.375" H (5.3 cm x 6 cm); 4.2" H (10.7 cm) on included custom stand.
A vessel like this would have been made for the elites of ancient society. Its owner would have used a stopper to keep the contents inside, and a glass rod to dip into the vessel's perfumed oils and dab on the throat or wrists. The handles made it possible to suspend the vessel, and we know from Athenian vase paintings that vessels like these could be worn off a belt at the waist or suspended from the wrist.
The Greeks created core-formed or sand core vessels by trailing threads of molten glass over a "core" of sand or clay to form the vessel. These threads were oftentimes feathered or dragged to create intriguing decorative patterns. The term amphoriskos literally means "little amphora" and is indeed a miniature amphora. This shape was quite popular as it was ideal to store precious oils, perfumes, or cosmetics.
According to the Corning Museum of Glass, core forming is "the technique of forming a vessel by winding or gathering molten glass around a core supported by a rod. After forming, the object is removed from the rod and annealed. After annealing, the core is removed by scraping." This process of glass making was begun in the late 16th century BCE by glassmakers of Mesopotamia, and then adopted by Egyptian glassmakers in the 15th century BCE. The technique almost came to an end in the so-called Dark Ages of Mediterranean civilization (1200 to 900 BCE); however, by the 9th century BCE a new generation of glassmakers took up the technique once again, and between the 6th and 4th century BCE core-forming spread throughout the Mediterranean.
For an incredibly similar example with nearly identical decorative elements in vibrant colors, please see The Metropolitan Museum of Art, accession number 81.10.297.
Another strikingly similar example, of a slightly larger size, hammered for $9,375 at Christie's, New York "Antiquities" auction (sale 2565, June 8, 2012, lot 128).
Provenance: The Dere Family Collection, New York, USA, assembled 1970's-2000's; ex-private collection of Stephen Shalom, Israel/New York, 1970's
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Repaired from multiple pieces, with restoration along areas of loss, and resurfacing and light overpainting along new material and break lines. Fading to original glass color, minor nicks to trail loops, and light encrustations. Great iridescence throughout.