All Collections
Previous Next
Back to Collection

Mallet-shaped Flask

GLS 586 | Mesopotamia or Egypt, or possibly Nishapur, Iran | 10th–11th century AD

Print Download

Artwork Details

Title: Mallet-shaped Flask

Date: 10th–11th century AD

Location: Mesopotamia or Egypt, or possibly Nishapur, Iran

Materials: colourless glass with a yellowish tinge; blown in an open mould and linear-cut

Dimensions: 19 x 11cm

Accession Number: GLS 586

Other Notes:

The flask belongs to a group of mallet-shaped vessels sometimes referred to as carafes. They characteristically have wide cylindrical bodies, broad shoulders and necks that taper slightly to broad flat rims, although many variations in proportions and shape occur. These are especially noticeable in the profile of the body, which may be cylindrical, tapering or waisted; and in the line of the shoulders, which may be flat or rounded. Among the more important archaeological finds are 17 that were recovered from the Serçe Limani shipwreck (some complete, others fragmentary); 7 excavated at Nishapur; and 7 found in a jar with other glass vessels at Sabra Mansuriyya, near Qayrawan. A probable 10th- to early 11th-century dating is corroborated by two finds from China. One of them was found at Naiman, Inner Mongolia, in the tomb of Princess Chenguo (Liao Dynasty) who died in 1018. The second, from the stupa of the Dule Temple in Jixian, Tianjing, must have been deposited there before 1058. A few are plain or have mould-blown decoration, but most, like this example, bear wheel-cut decoration.

The tapering neck is decorated with four zigzag lines within double borders, and the sloping shoulders bear a broad horizontal chevron band. The decoration of the body, which tapers towards the base, is divided into two registers. The upper one has an unusual filling – groups of oblique lines terminating in an open spiral – repeated eight times. Below are two pairs of confronted birds with an ‘eye’ motif between them. The birds, standing beneath shallow arches, have hooked beaks, raised wings and fanned tails [see drawing]. The thickened rim is uneven and has a thick, rounded edge. The base is flat and retains a pontil mark.


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.230, pp.190–91.

Related Artworks

Small Flask

JLY 1075
Jaipur, India

Youth in European Dress and Young Woman with Indian Headdress, from a Shahnamah

MSS 1000.1, MSS 1000.2
Isfahan, Iran


POT 684

Calligraphic Composition

CAL 154
Ottoman Turkey

Mail and Plate Shirt

MTW 1158
Northern Caucasus
for the Persian or Ottoman market

Two ‘Hands of Fatimah’

JLY 1923
India, possibly Hyderabad (Deccan)

Calligraphic Practice Sheet

CAL 266
Qazvin, Iran

Single Folio from a Four-part Qur’an

KFQ 90
Iran, Isfahan

Carpet with Star Medallions

TXT 213
Ushak, western Anatolia, Turkey

Mosque Lamp

GLS 572

Single Folio from a Qur’an

KFQ 45
Middle East or North Africa

Single Folio from a Qur’an

KFQ 50
Middle East

Five Folios from a Qur’an

KFQ 52
Middle East or North Africa

Two Folios from the ‘Blue Qur’an’

KFQ 53
North Africa or Spain

Single Folio from a Qur’an

KFQ 60
probably the Hijaz

Two Bifolios from a Qur’an

KFQ 82
Middle East

Single Folio from a Qur’an

KFQ 93
Middle East or North Africa

Single Folio from a Large Qur’an

KFQ 96
probably North Africa

Single Folio from a Qur'an

KFQ 34
Middle East

Single Folio from a Qur’an

KFQ 84
Middle East or North Africa



Khalili Collections Logo

Share this page