Greek Core-Formed Glass Amphoriskos:
Ancient Greece, ca. 6th to 4th century BCE. A beautiful example of a core-formed glass amphoriskos once used to hold aromatic oils. The vessel boasts an elegant form with a piriform body that is subtly contoured with vertical ribs, twin trail handles that gracefully join shoulder to neck, and a gently flaring rim, all upon a small circular trailed base knob. The decoration of this piece is simply gorgeous, with the cobalt blue body wound with tangerine yellow-orange and white trails – some threadlike and some bolder – applied in a close-knit feathered pattern. A white trail encircles the rim. An opulent example of glass-working to be treasured for its sumptuous form, lustrous sheen, fabulous hues, and sophisticated technique. Size: 1.875″ W handlespan x 3.375″ H (4.8 cm x 8.6 cm); 4″ H (10.2 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 little handles made it possible to suspend the vessel, and we know from Athenian vase paintings that vessels like these could be linked to a belt at the waist or suspended from the wrist.
The Greeks created core-formed or sandcore 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 this example 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.” (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.
Cf. Nina Kunina. Ancient Glass in the Hermitage Collection. St. Petersburg, 1997, no. 29, p. 251; Susan B. Matheson. Ancient Glass in the Yale University Art Gallery. New Haven, 1980, nos. 13-15, 17, pp. 6-7.
Provenance: East Coast collection, New York Gallery, New York City, New York, USA, acquired before 2010
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Professionally repaired from multiple pieces, but very well executed so as tp preserve that original silhouette perfectly.