Name of Object:



Madrid, Spain

Holding Museum:

National Archaeological Museum

About National Archaeological Museum, Madrid

Date of Object:

Hegira 6th–7th centuries / AD 12th–13th centuries

Museum Inventory Number:


Material(s) / Technique(s):

Glass; blowing, overlay.


Height 30 cm, diameter 13.5 cm

Period / Dynasty:



Villaricos, Almería, Spain.


Glass flask made with two types of paste: fine, whitish and transparent in the body and deeper blue at the top of the neck and the decoration. It has a slightly flattened globular body and a long, thin, cylindrical neck finished with an out-curving brim. The base is made up of a truncated-cone foot-ring. It is decorated with fine threads of blue glass paste that wind in a spiral around the neck, and a thread that marks the base, of which little has survived.
Andalusian glassware and the techniques associated with it originated in the East in the area of Syria, Palestine and Egypt. The body of the piece was blown, a technique that originated in the Middle East and dates back to the 2nd century BC. This technique enabled the manufacture of large glass objects and their export around the Mediterranean area.
It has been decorated using overlaying, a technique of equally remote origin that was widespread in Roman times. This technique takes advantage of the flexibility of the glass, which at high temperatures can be stretched into threads and easily attached to the hot surface of the object. During the Almohad period, this technique seems to have been widely used in eastern Andalusia in the AH 6th / AD 12th century and in particular during the first half of the AH 7th / AD 13th century. Although in principle it is a decorative element, it was also used for practical ends to provide the object with greater stability and to strengthen the more fragile areas, as is the case with this piece, whose long neck and base have been reinforced.
The study of glass from al-Andalus is hampered both by the problem inherent in the fragility of the material and its scarcity, distribution and the inability in many cases to determine its exact origin.

View Short Description

The disappearance of most Hispano-Muslim glass objects makes this Almohad-period flask extremely valuable. It was blown and decorated with a blue glass filament that also served to strengthen the neck and base.

How date and origin were established:

Recent studies on materials from digs in the Almohad period enable us to date this piece to that era. It has parallels with objects from digs in eastern Spain (Cieza, Murcia and Aspe, Alicante) dated from between the 6th and 7th / 12th and 13th centuries.

How Object was obtained:

This piece and two other flasks are part of the extensive Siret Collection, which was donated to the National Archaeological Museum in 1935.

How provenance was established:

This piece comes from Villaricos, Almería. In the 7th / 13th century, Ibn Said mentioned the towns of Murcia and Almería as centres of glass production, which is supported by recent archaeological discoveries. Although there are not standard types of Andalusian glassware to reference, the closed forms and long thin neck must have been relatively common. The piece may have been made locally after contemporary Syrian models.

Selected bibliography:

Jiménez Castillo, P., “El Vidrio Andalusí en Murcia”, in El Vidrio en Al-Andalus, Madrid, 2000, pp.118–23.
Lamm, C. J., Mittelalterliche Glaser und Steinschnittarbeiten aus dem Nahen Osten, Vol. II, Berlin, 1929, plate 27, no. 16.
Puche Acien, C., “Los Vidrios Islámicos de Alicante”, in El Vidrio en Al-Andalus, Madrid, 2000, p.158.
Zozaya, J., “Importaciones Casuales en al-Andalus”, in Actas del IV Congreso de Arqueología Medieval Española, Vol. I, Alicante, 1993, p.134.
Zozaya, J., “Redoma”, in De Gabinete a Museo, Madrid, p.444, no. 362.

Citation of this web page:

Margarita Sánchez Llorente "Flask" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2020.;ISL;es;Mus01;50;en

Prepared by: Margarita Sánchez LlorenteMargarita Sánchez Llorente

Margarita Sánchez Llorente cursó estudios de Historia del Arte y Psicología en la facultad de Filosofía y Letras de la Universidad Complutense de Madrid, obteniendo la licenciatura en 1974.Tras realizar numerosos cursos de posgrado en museología y documentación del patrimonio histórico-artístico y arqueológico, le fueron concedidas varias becas de investigación en museística. De 1989 a 2000 trabajó en el Museo Arqueológico Nacional, en la gestión y documentación de los proyectos de la Unión Europea: EMN (European Museum Network), RAMA (Remote Access to Museum Archives) y –como colaboradora del departamento de Antigüedades Egipcias y del Próximo Oriente– Champollion. Ha participado en numerosos coloquios y encuentros internacionales y publicado varios artículos sobre las nuevas tecnologías aplicadas a la documentación en los museos.

Copyedited by: Rosalía AllerRosalía Aller

Rosalía Aller Maisonnave, licenciada en Letras (Universidad Católica del Uruguay), y en Filología Hispánica y magíster en Gestión Cultural de Música, Teatro y Danza (Universidad Complutense de Madrid), ha obtenido becas de la Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional y la Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia de Madrid, así como el Diplôme de Langue Française (Alliance Française), el Certificate of Proficiency in English (University of Cambridge) y el Certificado Superior en inglés y francés (Escuela Oficial de Idiomas de Madrid). Profesora de Estética de la Poesía y Teoría Literaria en la Universidad Católica del Uruguay, actualmente es docente de Lengua Castellana y Literatura en institutos de Enseñanza Secundaria y formación del profesorado en Madrid. Desde 1983, ha realizado traducción y edición de textos en Automated Training Systems, Applied Learning International, Videobanco Formación y El Derecho Editores. Integra el equipo de Museo Sin Fronteras desde 1999 y ha colaborado en la revisión de los catálogos de “El Arte Islámico en el Mediterráneo”. Así mismo, ha realizado publicaciones sobre temas literarios y didácticos, ha dictado conferencias y ha participado en recitales poéticos.

Translation by: Laurence Nunny
Translation copyedited by: Monica Allen

MWNF Working Number: SP 73


 Artistic Introduction

 Timeline for this item

Islamic Dynasties / Period


On display in

Discover Islamic Art Exhibition(s)

The Muslim West | Court Life

MWNF Galleries



As PDF (including images) As Word (text only)