Name of Object:

Fragments of a flask


London, England, United Kingdom

Holding Museum:

The British Museum

About The British Museum, London

Date of Object:

Hegira 521–41 / AD 1127–46

Museum Inventory Number:


Material(s) / Technique(s):

Gilded glass.


Width 15.7 cm

Period / Dynasty:

Atabeg / Zangid


Mosul, Iraq.


Fragments of a gilded-glass flask upon which gold dust has been applied in suspension with an adhesive. The flask has then been lightly fired to fix the gold to the surface of the glass and the decoration scratched through the gold with a needle. This technique seems to have replaced lustre-painted glass after the 11th century. Figural designs fill the upper and lower bands. In the upper section there are two dancing women playing the harp and a castanet, and standing between pomegranate trees. In the lower register are eagles with wings outstretched, also between pomegranate trees. A band around the centre of the flask has a cursive inscription with the name of the Mosul ruler, Imad al-Din Zangi, (r. AH 512–41 / AD 1128–46), who was appointed Atabeg (Turkish, 'father-lord'), a guardian or governor that served a young Seljuq prince. The Atabeg/Zangid dynasty continued to grow in power until Nur al-Din bin Zangi took Damascus in AH 549 / AD 1154 and established independent sovereignty.

View Short Description

Fragments of a flask decorated in gold with dancing figures and eagles. An inscription, also in gold, tells us that this flask was made for the Mosul ruler, Imad al-Din Zangi.

Original Owner:

Imad al-Din Zangi

How date and origin were established:

Imad al-Din Zangi is mentioned in the inscription indicating that the flask would have been made while he was ruler of Mosul in AH 512–41 / AD 1128–46.

How Object was obtained:

Purchased in 1906.

How provenance was established:

The ruler of Mosul, Imad al-Din Zangi, is mentioned in the inscription: the flask would therefore have been made in the vicinity of Mosul.

Selected bibliography:

Brend, B., Islamic Art, London, 1991, pp.112–3.

Citation of this web page:

Emily Shovelton "Fragments of a flask" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2018.;ISL;uk;Mus01;8;en

Prepared by: Emily ShoveltonEmily Shovelton

Emily Shovelton is a historian of Islamic art. She studied history of art at Edinburgh University before completing an MA in Islamic and Indian art at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London. Since graduating she has worked on a number of projects at the British Museum. Other recent work includes editing and writing for a digital database of architectural photographs at the British Library. She is currently working on a Ph.D. on “Sultanate Painting in 15th-century India and its relationship to Persian, Mamluk and Indian Painting”, to be completed at SOAS in 2006. A paper on Sultanate painting given at the Conference of European Association of South Asian Archaeologists, held in the British Museum in July 2005, is due to be published next year.

Copyedited by: Mandi Gomez

MWNF Working Number: UK1 11


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