Historical period(s)
Fatimid period, mid 10th century
Rock crystal, with enameled gold mount
H x W x D (overall): 15.1 x 6.8 x 3.9 cm (5 15/16 x 2 11/16 x 1 9/16 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Freer Gallery 03: Engaging the Senses: Art in the Islamic World
Glass, Vessel


Egypt, Fatimid period (909 - 1171), WWII-era provenance
Provenance research underway.

Together with gold and silver, rock crystal was one of the most esteemed materials during the first centuries of Islam.  According to historical sources, the treasury of the Fatimid rulers of Egypt (909-1171) in Cairo possessed between 18,000 and 36,000 such items.  Most extant examples have been preserved in the West, where they were often used as reliquaries in churches or collected by the aristocracy.

This flask, perhaps made prior to the rule of the Fatimids, once belonged to the collection of the Habsburg emperor Rudolph II of Bohemia (reigned 1576-1612).  The fine gold mount with enameled decoration dates from his reign.

Published References
  • Die herovorragendsten kunstwerke der Schatzkammer des Osterreischen Kaiserhauses...herausgegeban von Quirin von Leitner. Vienna, 1870-1873. .
  • Washington's Treasure House of Middle Eastern Art. vol. 1, no. 1 Washington, January 1956. p. 5.
  • Treasure House of the Middle East. vol. 8, no. 19 Beirut, May 9, 1957. p. 10.
  • Erich V. Strohmer. Prunkgefasse aus Bergkristall. Wien. pp. 26-27, pl. 3.
  • Dr. Esin Atil. Art of the Arab World. Exh. cat. Washington, 1975. cat. 13, p. 36.
  • Quirin von Leitner, K.K. Holburg. Die Schatzkammer des Allerhochsten Kaiserhauses. Wien. cat. 31, p. 53.
  • Randall L. Pouwels. African and Middle Eastern World, 600-1500. The Medieval and Early Modern World New York. p. 66.
  • Kurt Erdmann. Islamische Bergkristallarbelten. vol. 61 Berlin. pp. 130-144.
  • Carl J. Lamm. Mittelalterliche Gläser und Steinschnittarbeiten aus dem Nahen Osten. Forschungen zur Islamischen Kunst 2 vols., Berlin. cat. 1, p. 205, pl. 71.
  • Axel von Saldern. An Islamic Carved Glass Cup in the Corning Museum of Glass. vol. 18, nos.3-4 Washington and Zurich, 1955. p. 265.
Collection Area(s)
Arts of the Islamic World
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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