Syrian Glass Bottles
Syrian Glass Bottles
Syrian Glass Bottles
Syrian Glass Bottles
Syrian Glass Bottles
Syrian Glass Bottles
Syrian Glass Bottles
Syrian Glass Bottles

around 1280

Material
Glass

Collection
Dom Museum Wien
On loan from St. Stephen's Cathedral

Inv.Nr.
L/5

Glass
Vessel
Medieval art

On view

Query
Reproduction request
Loan request

Photo: Leni Deinhardstein, Lisa Rastl, Dom Museum Wien
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Syrian glass bottle with gilding and multcolored enamel

The bottle bears witness to the highly developed art of glass-making of the Levant and show rare depictions of courtly scenes.

This vessel exemplifies the glass-making art of the Levant at the height of its development. It is one of two such bottles in the museum's collection. Made around 1300 in Syria, they fascinate with gilding, colorful enamel ornamentation, and writing in Arabic calligraphy. What they have in common is the repetition of a single word on bands of script (reading “sultan” on one piece, and “scholar” on the other) and the blue cloverleaf pattern. Generally, however, the two vessels are clearly distinguished in form and decoration: one is amphora-shaped and divided into horizontal bands showing patterns like vine tendrils and stars. Only on the shoulder of the bottle, two birds of prey are found on a blue ground: although Islamic aniconism mostly relates to sacred art, figural representations are rare also in profane subjects.
The second vessel shown here is particularly noticeable: it shows people engaging in typical courtly pastimes. The medallions on the wide sides each show four people standing around a tree by the water: in the one picture, they are depicted playing the lute, the flute, and the tambourine; on the other, there are only two people who make music while the others are listening and having drinks. On each narrow side, a falconer can be seen riding a white, and on the opposite side a red, horse. Along the upper edge of the bottleneck, a row of men is depicted presumably praying. The vessel has the flat shape of a pilgrim bottle, with two loops or handles to fasten it to a belt. However, the precious material and the size suggest that, like the other bottle, it was rather made as a ceremonial vessel for the sultan and probably used as a jug.

How the objects reached Austria remains unclear. What is certain is that they belonged to Duke Rudolf IV until he donated them to St. Stephen’s in the mid-fourteenth century. They both contained earth supposedly dripped with the blood of the innocent children and filled into the bottles probably by a pilgrim to Bethlehem.