The Aga Khan Museum is closed until further notice. Please click here to learn more about the Museum’s response to COVID-19.
Bottle with spherical body and tall tubular neck on short foot, the body plain save for a simple band cut around the shoulder, the neck wheel-cut with four bands of faceting, polychrome iridescence colouring
AKM647, Bottle

© The Aga Khan Museum

Click on the image to zoom

On Display
  • Accession Number:AKM647
  • Place:Iran
  • Dimensions:height: 19.7 cm; diameter: 10 cm
  • Date:9th–10th century
  • Materials and Technique:glass, colourless, polychrome weathering; free blown, wheel-cut, tooled, worked on the pontil
  • With its clean lines and simple designs, this bottle has an almost minimalist aesthetic. Due to the complete weathering in numerous shining colours on a silvery ground the wheel-cut details are difficult to see. The decoration on its perfectly shaped globular body consists of a simple band around the shoulder. Its circular footring was made by folding. On the pushed-in base is a pontil mark. Its long, cylindrical neck has four main horizontal bands of faceting between four plain minor bands. The uppermost minor band is next to the bottle’s rim. Some of the main bands have a type of diagonal faceting also noticeable on the geometrical relief-cut bottle in the Aga Khan Museum Collection (see AKM646). [1] Like its relief-cut counterpart, this bottle was likely produced in Iran between the 9th and 10th centuries. However, bottles of a related shape are found well into the 11th century in this region.[2]

Further Reading


Some of the bottles unearthed during the excavations of Nishapur in northeastern Iran share the simple aesthetic of this bottle: ridges or grooves are the only decoration they have. Not all of them are of the same quality, suggesting that glass workshops may have made experiments to find suitable aesthetic answers.[3]


The iridescence of this bottle’s surface is not original pigmentation, but rather the result of decay due to the long period that the glass was buried in the soil before it was excavated. This kind of weathering [4] (changes on the surface of glass caused by chemical reaction with the environment) held considerable attraction to later generations of artists and collectors. When such pieces came on the market, some artists were inspired to imitate the patina in their own glass products, especially during the period of Art Nouveau. It is known, for instance, that the artist Louis Comfort Tiffany collected Islamic glass objects to use them as inspiration for his own creations.[5]


The reactions of glass to its environment can vary widely. Sometimes, excavators of archaeological expeditions unearth nothing more than a sort of imprint of the original glass vessel. In contrast, glass buried in dry conditions may not show any reactions of the soil. As a bottle in the Aga Khan Museum Collection (see AKM649) shows this is often the case with glass vessels excavated in Egypt.


— Jens Kröger

[1] For the decoration of the neck see Kröger, 128, no. 173; Carboni, 132, cat. 2.35.
[2] Carboni and Whitehouse, 181, no. 86, 190, no. 95; Carboni, 132, cat. 2.35.
[3] Kröger, 126–128, no. 171–172.
[4] Kröger, 22.
[5] Carboni and Whitehouse, 127, no. 43.    


Carboni, Stefano. Glass from Islamic Lands. The Al-Sabah Collection. Kuwait National Museum. New York: Thames and Hudson, 2001. ISBN: 9780500976067
---. and David Whitehouse, with contributions by Robert H. Brill and William Gudenrath. Glass of the Sultans. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Corning, NY: The Corning Museum of Glass; Athens: Benaki Museum; New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001. ISBN: 9780300088519 
Kröger, Jens. Nishapur. Glass of the Early Islamic Period. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1995. ISBN: 9780300192827

Note: This online resource is reviewed and updated on an ongoing basis. We are committed to improving this information and will revise and update knowledge about this object as it becomes available.


Get connected. Stay engaged. Sign up for the latest updates from the Aga Khan Museum