In their early history, glass objects were aesthetically appreciated by patrons and makers for their versatile shapes and colours which reflected attempts to ‘imitate’ metalwork, porcelain and precious and semi-precious stones. The utility of glass was dealt with differently within different cultures. For example, the Celts only produced rings, beads and bangles, whereas Germanic tribes imported their glass from the Mediterranean lands and called is “glesum”. or amber, while the Greeks referred to it as “lithos chyre” which means “cast stone”. While various methods of glass production have existed throughout history, it was the “free” blowing swing and weight technique that became the most popular and is still used to this day. This particular method allows the craftsman to control the shape of the glass to produce the thinnest of glassware. It was the Sassanids than first imported this technique to Persia and from that stage, most considerable advances in glassmaking were through the improved decorative abilities of the glass makers themselves, which was evident throughout the Middle East during the Islamic period. This method ultimately enriched the craftsman’s artistic talents and skills and gave them sufficient inspiration to explore the surface of the glass by manipulating the different designs in engraving with gibled, cut and faceted, enamelling and then lustre painting. During the early Islamic period, there was a continuity of shapes and decorative motifs and the various techniques spread widely throughout the Islamic world from Syria, Egypt and Mesopotamia. Beyond the practical uses of glassware, Islamic scientists used glass extensively, particularly in the form of glass weights.
While not as large as its other collections, the Tareq Rajab Museum possesses glass objects from the early Islamic period through to the late Mughal period in India. An example of the earliest work in the the glass collection includes an 8th century mould-blown inkwell from Mesopotamia or Iran. Other such mould-blown objects include glass vases such as a blue glass vase and perfume vase from Iran in the 11th century AD. Beakers, cut glass flasks, jugs, ewers and stem-cups dating from between the 8th and 14th century AD all make up the glass collection; however, one of the real highlights of the collection is a pair of glass polychrome painted bottles from the late Mughal period in India (18th century AD).
An example of the glass objects housed in the museum
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