This ewer decorated with quadrupeds and birds in roundels, probably made in Nishapur, is one of the best examples of glass vessels with wheel-cut designs. The two roundels on either side of the handle show long-tailed birds, and the third bears a crouching lion. While this was the only glass vessel found at Nishapur with a pattern of roundels around its body, the decoration type is known from other examples of Sasanian and Islamic metalwork, textiles, ceramics, and glass. Broken when excavated, it has been reassembled from approximately twenty pieces and its surface retains slight traces of iridescence.
Made from transparent yellowish colorless glass, this jug has a rounded body narrowed at the base of the neck and a flared opening. It stands on a low foot ring with a pontil mark at the base, and a handle with a thumb rest is attached at the rim and body. Broken when excavated, it has been reassembled from approximately twenty pieces, and its surface retains slight traces of iridescence. The entire surface is decorated with wheel-cut motifs that stand in relief against the ground and provide the principal decoration on the body—three roundels separated by geometric and vegetal designs. The two roundels on either side of the handle show long-tailed birds, and the third bears a crouching lion, all facing left. This was the only glass vessel found at Nishapur with a pattern of roundels around its body, a type of decoration known from other examples of Sasanian and Islamic metalwork, textiles, ceramics, and glass.
In addition to carved stucco architectural elements, extensive wall paintings, coins, high-quality ceramics, and metalwork, a total of 115 glass vessels or fragments were found at the site of Tepe Madrasa. None of the glass finds were from the mosque itself; many were from rooms in different parts of the complex, with a concentration in what may have been a residential quarter, and many others came from the wells, drains, and latrines, indicating that they had probably been discarded. This jug was in a drain on the lower level of the site. Although no glassmaking kilns were found at Nishapur, the number and range of finds point to a flourishing and highly developed industry in the ninth and tenth centuries.
Qamar Adanjee in [Ekhtiar, Soucek, Canby, and Haidar 2011]
1. See Kroger 1995 and Carboni et al 2001, p. 157, for a detailed list of comparative examples.
2. Kroger 1995, p. 14.
1938, excavated at Tepe Madrasa in Nishapur, Iran by the Metropolitan Museum of Art's expedition; 1939, acquired by the Museum in the division of finds
Corning, NY. Corning Museum of Glass. "Glass of the Sultans," May 24, 2001–September 3, 2001, no. 97.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Glass of the Sultans," October 2, 2001–January 13, 2002, no. 97.
Athens, Greece. Benaki Museum. "Glass of the Sultans," February 20, 2002–May 15, 2002, no. 97.
Paris. Musée du Louvre. "Louvre Long Term Loan," April 28, 2004–April 27, 2006, no catalogue.
"The Museum's Excavations at Nishapur." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin vol. 37, no. 4 (1942). p. 111, ill. fig. 35 (b/w).
McAllister, Hannah, Maurice S. Dimand, Charles K. Wilkinson, and Walter Hauser. "Excavations of the Iranian Expedition in the Kanat Teppeh, Nishapur." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, old series, vol. 37 (1942). pp. 106, 111, ill. fig. 35 (b/w).
Kröger, Jens. Nishapur: Glass of the Early Islamic Period. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1995. no. 228, pp. 174-5, ill. (b/w).
Carboni, Stefano, David Whitehouse, Robert H. Brill, and William Gudenrath. Glass of the Sultans. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001. no. 97, pp. 192-93, ill. p. 192 (color).
Ekhtiar, Maryam, Sheila R. Canby, Navina Haidar, and Priscilla P. Soucek, ed. Masterpieces from the Department of Islamic Art in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1st ed. ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011. no. 82, p. 126, ill. p. 126 (color).