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Lot 0097
Ancient Near East, Islamic, ca. 6th to 12th century CE. A special example of a glass vessel form that has been understudied - an alembic, funneled cup, or cupping glass - presenting a deep-hemispheric body with a rolled rim and a long stem handle, all comprised of translucent glass. The name alembic is derived from the Arabic word al-anbiq (to still) and the Greek word ambix (cup). Scholars have suggested three uses for alembics - medical, chemical, or feeding. Given their small size, the ancients could more easily feed their babies small doses of medicine or food. In addition, according to an Arabic source of medical literature entitled "al-Tasrif" by Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi (936-1030), cupping vessels like this example were sometimes used to suction air from a patient's body. In addition, alembics are believed to have been used in the distillation process in order to create perfume or for magical alchemy. Size: 6.25" L (15.9 cm) from handle to cup edge; cup measures 1.75" in diameter (4.4 cm)

Source: For more about this intriguing form, read the following article entitled, "Searching for the Original Use of a Mysterious Glass Vessel" by Barbara Venezia (a former intern of the Department of Islamic Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art) August 24, 2016 - https://www.metmuseum.org/blogs/ruminations/2016/alembics

Provenance: private Davis collection, Houston, Texas, USA; ex-Gerhard Hirsch Nachfolger Auction 277-278, Munich, Germany, lot 513

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Loss to tip of handle. Handle reattached, showing surrounding break line and radiating fissures. Earth deposits on interior.

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Ancient Islamic Glass Alembic for Medical Cupping

Estimate $800 - $1,200May 10, 2018
Louisville, CO, USA