Ancient Greece, Hellenistic, ca. 2nd to 1st century BCE. A core-formed glass alabastron, so-named because many vessels that assumed this form were made of alabaster. The opaque polychrome vessel is primarily comprised of cobalt-blue glass with trails of sunny yellow and sky blue glass that have been combed into a festoon decoration. A pair of trail handles were applied to the upper body and are formed from solid dark-blue glass. Brilliant rainbow iridescence scattered across several small areas of the composition make this an elegant example of Hellenistic artistry! Size: 5.5" H (14 cm); 5.75" H (14.6 cm) on included custom stand.
The alabastron is a long-bodied vessel with a rounded bottom, a cylindrical neck, and a flat disk for a mouth. Though usually without handles, some alabastra have eyes or lugs, like this example. According to the Beazley Archive of the University of Oxford, the alabastron shape's history extends back to Corinth, but was only preserved in Athenian pottery examples back to the mid-sixth century BCE. Alabastra were created in many materials, including alabaster, and the Greek term for this stone. Alabastron (most likely of Egyptian origin) - was the source of inspiration for the name of this shaped vessel. Many examples were finished with a white ground, as if to imitate this stone. We know from vase painting imagery of women using alabastra following a bath, that these vessels most likely held perfumed oils.
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." (https://www.cmog.org/glass-dictionary/core-forming). 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.
Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection; ex-Martin J. Wunsch collection, New York, USA, acquired in the 1980s
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Repaired from about 8 to 10 pieces with restoration over the break lines. Nicks to rim and a few old nicks to the exterior walls of the vessel. Amazing silvery and rainbow iridescence across the surface.