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A Mamluk Enamelled Glass Flask, Egypt or Syria, Mid-14th Century

The rounded body with flatter underside and short foot, rising to a slowly widening tubular mouth, the broad rounded shoulder with a main band of three large roundels each containing a small central blue bird combat roundel within a band of meandering flowering vine, the interstices with floral designs, above a band of blue roundels with animal combat groups alternating with drop-shaped panels, remains of similar designs around the neck, surface decoration now degraded but clearly legible, neck repaired. 9 3/8in. (23.9cm.) high. Estimate £25,000 - £35,000

Notes: In his discussion of a dome-shaped bottle in the Corning Museum of Glass, Stefano Carboni indicates that the model for that shape may be a bottle now in the Museum für Islamische Kunst which is of a similar size to our example and datable to the third quarter of the 13th century (inv.I.2573, V. Porter, in R. Ward, Gilded and Enamelled Glass from the Middle East, London, 1998, p.199, fig. 21.6).

The decoration with registers of circular medallions is particularly adapted to this dome-shaped form. In each medallion, a feline is attacking a prey, respectively facing left and right, the two animals being arranged the one above the other. The motif has a long history in the Islamic world and, when looked at in the context of the Khirbat al-Mafjar mosaics in Jericho, possibly also has symbolic meaning. Combining similar enamelled medallions and a ground of vegetal motifs sketchily drawn in red, a large decanter of the Kuwait National Museum shows a decorative program that Stefano Carboni specifically attributes to the mid-14th century (S. Carboni, Glass from Islamic Lands, London, 2001, p.366, fig.101). The domed-shaped bottle in the Victoria and Albert Museum in the name of Sayf al-Din Jurji, whose carrier is recorded from 1347 to 1370, has small medallions with an eagle attacking a bird on red drawn ground and offers the closest comparable to our bottle (http://collections.vam.ac.uk/objectid/O624).

Christie's. Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds 31 March 2009 . London, King Street. www.christies.com Image 2009 Christie's Ltd