Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Physician's Cupping Glass or Alembic

Object Name:
9th–11th century
Attributed to Iran, Nishapur. Excavated in Iran, Nishapur
Glass, greenish; blown, applied spout
H. 1 15/16 in. (5 cm) L. 3 7/8 in. (9.9 cm)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1940
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 453
The suggested identifications for this object, of which numerous examples have been found at Nishapur and other excavation sites, include cupping glass, alembic, baby feeder, and breast reliever. The most recent proposal splits the objects into two types: those with straight spouts and those with curved spouts. The straight-spouted vessels may have served as alembics, which are used in distilling liquids; those with curved spouts may have served as cupping glasses, which were placed on the skin in medieval medical treatments. Only one thing is clear: after the twelfth century, the production of both types ceased.
1939, excavated at Tepe Madrasa in Nishapur, Iran by the Metropolitan Museum of Art's expedition; 1940, acquired by the Museum in the division of finds

Dearborn, MI. Arab-American National Museum. "Arab American National Museum Long Term Loan," June 1, 2006–May 31, 2009, no catalogue.

Kröger, Jens. Nishapur: Glass of the Early Islamic Period. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1995. no. 240, pp. 187-188, ill. p. 188 (b/w).

Related Objects


Date: 9th–11th century Medium: Glass, green; blown, applied spout Accession: 38.40.195 On view in:Gallery 452

Animal-Spouted Pitcher

Date: 9th–10th century Medium: Earthenware; polychrome decoration under transparent glaze (buff ware) Accession: 38.40.247 On view in:Gallery 452

Strand of Beads

Date: 9th–12th century Medium: Carnelian Accession: 48.101.70 On view in:Gallery 453

Lantern for a Lamp

Date: 9th–10th century Medium: Earthenware; carved decoration, unglazed Accession: 39.40.87 On view in:Gallery 453

Dado Panel

Date: 20th century Medium: Plaster; cast Accession: 37.40.46 On view in:Gallery 452