Enamelled Flask

brownish glass, blown, tooled and decorated with polychrome enamels and gilding

34.5 x 17.2cm

At the base of the neck is a band of seven male standing figures, possibly in church vestments and intended to represent ecclesiastics. On the body is a band of seated figures, drinkers and musicians. The drinkers are holding up beakers to toast them or pouring from flasks similar in shape to this one. On the shoulders rosettes alternate with large birds, evidently pelicans – in medieval western Europe a symbol of Christ and the institution of the Eucharist. Like the robed figures, this may suggest that the flask was ordered for a European, perhaps a pilgrim, as a memento of a visit to the Holy Land.

S.M. Goldstein et al, Glass. From Sasanian Antecedents to European Imitations, The Nasser D Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, volume XV, London 2005, cat.308, pp.282–3.

J.M. Rogers, The Arts of Islam. Masterpieces from the Khalili Collection, London 2010, cat.154, pp.128–9.