Egypt, Late Dynastic Period, 26th to 31st Dynasty, ca. 664 to 332 BCE. A stunning vase of an elegant form that is expertly hand-carved from honey-yellow alabaster with integral opaque and tan banding that illuminates when placed next to a bright light. The top-heavy vessel is defined by a flat, stable base, an inverted piriform body with a delicately tapering profile, and a rounded shoulder surmounted by a thick rim. The interior cavity was drilled out using progressively finer drill bits and abrasive sand, and the protruding rings denote the shallow depths to which individual layers could be bored out. A superb stone vessel with expert artistry as well as smooth surfaces textures. Size: 4.3" W x 8.25" H (10.9 cm x 21 cm)
Alabaster, which is a form of gypsum or calcite, soft to carve and smooth, was quarried along the length of the Nile, from Giza to just south of Luxor. and the Egyptians made its carved forms famous throughout the ancient world. The Egyptians were master carvers and used the abundant stone deposits in the Nile Valley and the Eastern Sahara throughout their history to fashion sculptures, vessels, and monumental buildings made famous throughout the ancient world. The perfect symmetry of this example demonstrates their skill. The piece was drilled into, then special tools were used to expand the drilled-upon areas, allowing the walls of the vessel to illuminate when light passed through the stone.
Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection; ex-Neil Phillips collection, New York, USA, acquired in the 1990s
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Minor abrasions to base, body, and rim, with minor nicks to inside of rim, and light encrustations within interior cavity, otherwise intact and near choice. Light earthen deposits within interior, and smooth surface texture across exterior.