National Museum of Damascus
Hegira 218–27 / AD 833–41
Glass decorated with metallic lustre.
Height 11 cm, diameter 9.4 cm
A goblet that was found during archaeological excavations at Palace B, a building which bears an inscription on plaster associating it with the Caliph al-Mu'tasim Billah (r. AH 218–27 / AD 833–42). The goblet has a simple circular base and an inverted bell-shaped body; a twisted stem connects the two parts.
The application of metallic lustre to decorate vessels is a quintessentially Islamic technique that first appeared in glasswork before becoming, famously, applied to pottery. The body of this goblet is decorated with vertical and horizontal lines of metallic lustre, that take the shape of sequential dots forming stylised vegetal motifs and bands of circular geometric patterns. The rim is articulated with line of cobalt-blue.
Raqqa, a region that lies between the Euphrates and Balikh rivers, flourished during the Abbasid period. A group of Abbasid palaces, parts of which were excavated during the 1950s and labelled with the letters A, B, C and D, are found in the region.
This elegant blue-rimmed chalice with metallic-lustre and painted decoration is a masterpiece of royal glasswork. It was found in the Raqqa region during excavation of the palace of the Abbasid Caliph al-Mu'tasim Billah who reigned AH 218–27 / AD 833–41.
Caliph al-Mu’tasim Billah (r. AH 218–27 / AD 833–42)
The object is believed to be contemporary to Palace B, which has been dated to the period of al-Mu'tasim's reign (218–27 / 833–41).
The object was obtained during archaeological excavations undertaken in the 1950s by the Syrian General Directorate of Antiquities under the direction of Nasib Salibi.
The goblet was found during an archaeological excavation at Raqqa. There is no way of establishing whether it was made locally or imported, as similar glass production flourished in both Baghdad and Damascus.
Abu al-Faraj al-Ush, M., A Concise Guide to the National Museum of Damascus, Damascus, 1969, p.161.
Carboni, S., and Whitehouse, D., Glass of the Sultans, New York, 2001.
Cluzan, S. et al (eds), Syrie: Mémoire et Civilisation, Paris, 1994.
Daiber, V., and Becker, A., Raqqa III, Mainz, 2004, p.102; fig. 19, plate
Soustiel, J., and Kiefer, C., La céramique islamique, Fribourg, 1985, p.420.
Mona al-Moadin "Goblet" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2020. http://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;sy;Mus01;6;en
Prepared by: Mona Al-Moadin
Translation by: Hilary Kalmbach (from the Arabic)
Translation copyedited by: Mandi GomezMandi Gomez
Amanda Gomez is a freelance copy-editor and proofreader working in London. She studied Art History and Literature at Essex University (1986–89) and received her MA (Area Studies Africa: Art, Literature, African Thought) from SOAS in 1990. She worked as an editorial assistant for the independent publisher Bellew Publishing (1991–94) and studied at Bookhouse and the London College of Printing on day release. She was publications officer at the Museum of London until 2000 and then took a role at Art Books International, where she worked on projects for independent publishers and arts institutions that included MWNF’s English-language editions of the books series Islamic Art in the Mediterranean. She was part of the editorial team for further MWNF iterations: Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean Virtual Museum and the illustrated volume Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean.
True to its ethos of connecting people through the arts, MWNF has provided Amanda with valuable opportunities for discovery and learning, increased her editorial experience, and connected her with publishers and institutions all over the world. More recently, the projects she has worked on include MWNF’s Sharing History Virtual Museum and Exhibition series, Vitra Design Museum’s Victor Papanek and Objects of Desire, and Haus der Kulturen der Welt’s online publication 2 or 3 Tigers and its volume Race, Nation, Class.
MWNF Working Number: SY 12
Islamic Dynasties / Period
On display in
Discover Islamic Art Exhibition(s)The Abbasids | Al-Raqqa: Caliph Harun al-Rashid’s Capital in Syria The Abbasids | Managing Prosperity
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