Name of Object:
Museum of Islamic Art
Date of Object:
Hegira 8th–9th century / AD 14th–15th century
Museum Inventory Number:
Material(s) / Technique(s):
Ivory inlaid with niello.
Length 22 cm
Period / Dynasty:
Egypt, probably Cairo.
A kohl container that is composed of a stretched hollow ivory prism-like body, comprising a hexagonal cross-section divided into six planes. At both ends of the body are two decorative forms, one of which is in the shape of a flower on the brink of unfurling. Each face of the six identical sides is decorated with six rosettes, each of which is made up of six petals. Each of the rosettes is separated from its neighbour by two triangular shapes which conjoin at their tips. Each plane in turn is separated from the other, by a thin decorated band.
View Short Description
Muslim women paid great attention to their appearance and tools like this kohl container were used for beautification or health of the eyes. Kohl containers were made in a variety of forms and materials such as brass, silver, and glass. The kohl itself was prepared from copper, lead and burnt saffron plant.
How date and origin were established:
This container was dated by means of studying the geometric decorative components and the six-petalled flower decorative units, both of which decorative motifs appear on many Mamluk metallic and wooden objects preserved in museum collections and private archaeological collections in Egypt or abroad.
How Object was obtained:
The container was bought from the antiquities dealer, Muhammad Zahir in 1913.
How provenance was established:
A great number of glass kohl containers, still containing the remains of kohl, have been found during the course of archaeological excavations carried out in the City of Fustat in Egypt. It is likely that the object was produced in a workshop in Cairo.
Abdel Azim, R., and Sayour, S., “Parfums et cosmétiques dans le monde arabo-musulman”, Catalogue d'exposition, Cairo-Paris-Marseilles, 2002.
Citation of this web page:
Muhammad Abbas Muhammad Selim "Kohl Container" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2021. https://islamicart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=object;ISL;eg;Mus01;6;en