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Fine Greek Core Formed Glass Alabastron

Ancient Greece, Eastern Mediterranean, Classical Period, ca. late 6th to early 5th century BCE. A beautiful core-formed glass alabastron, so named because many vessels that assumed this form were made of alabaster. The opaque vessel is comprised of deep cobalt-blue glass with yellow and semi-translucent blue-green trailing combed into a feathered zigzag pattern to adorn the midsection of the body, and slender bands of similar colors encircle the base, upper shoulder, and neck beneath the yellow-ringed rim. Several shallow pattern-molded ribs surround the body, and a pair of applied lug handles - of which one is drooping as it did not set properly during formation - are situated on the shoulder. A gorgeous work of expert glass-blowing with fabulous hues and an elegant presentation. Custom lucite display stand included. Size: 1.375" W x 3.875" H (3.5 cm x 9.8 cm); 4.25" H (10.8 cm) on included custom stand.

The alabastron is a long-bodied vessel with a rounded bottom, a cylindrical neck, and a flat disk for a mouth. Though usually without handles, some alabastra do boast small curving handles, like this example. According to the Beazley Archive of the University of Oxford, the alabastron shape's history extends back to Corinth, but was only preserved in Athenian pottery examples back to the mid-sixth century BCE. Alabastra were created in many materials, including alabaster, and the Greek term for this stone - alabastron (most likely of Egyptian origin) - was the source of inspiration for the name of this shaped vessel. Many examples were finished with a white ground, as if to imitate this stone. We know from vase painting imagery of women using alabastra following a bath, that these vessels most likely held perfumed oils.

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.

Condition: Minor nicks and abrasions to body and rim, fading to some areas of pigmentation, micro-bubbling within glass matrix, with light pitting holes, and a few stable hairline fissures along neck, otherwise intact and excellent. Light earthen deposits throughout.

Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection

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