Roman; Found on Cyprus
Mold–blown glass; H. 7 1/4 in. (18.4 cm)
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917 (17.194.226)
Many craftsmen of mold-carved glass decoration active in the first century A.D. distinguished themselves by putting their names on the molds and identifying the source of the object's manufacture. The most famous and gifted of these craftsmen is Ennion, who came from the coastal city of Sidon in modern Lebanon, and whose workshop is thought to have been situated there. However, Ennion vessels have also been found in Greece, Spain, and Gaul, as well as at numerous sites in Italy, and so it is very likely that his molds, as well as finished glasses, were traded throughout the Mediterranean. The quality and popularity of Ennion's products and, more particularly, his molds probably explains why they are signed.
Ennion's products are distinguished by the fine detail and precision of their relief decoration that imitates designs found especially on contemporary silver tableware. Scholars have therefore suggested that Ennion trained as a silversmith and adapted the skills of embossing and chasing metal to the making of glass molds. This jug is decorated with an acanthus pattern along the shoulder that is typical of Ennion's workshop, and a rectangular placard with the inscription ENNION EPOIEI, or "Ennion Made Me."
Other mold-blown vessels that bear similar Greek inscriptions identify their makers as Iason (29.100.82; 59.11.3), Neikais, Meges, and Aristeas, whose names typically appear with the Greek word EPOIEI or EPOIHSEN, "Made me" or "Made it." While all of these craftsmen probably worked in the Syro-Palestinian region, where mold-blowing first developed, Aristeas signed himself as "the Cypriot," indicating that not all of them were locals. The habit of adding names to vessels in this way soon disappeared, and from the mid-first century onward most mold-blown glass was produced anonymously, like free-blown vessels. The one major exception occurs in the production of certain types of storage bottle (17.194.219), which carry distinguishing stamps on their bases. These stamps, often with names in Latin, are seen as trademarks that guarantee the contents or signify the place of origin, and not as a form of advertisement for the glassmaker.