A fine late Roman pilgrim flask in pale green glass with ribbon handles. Completely intact. The vessel is displayed on a black acrylic base (included).
Originally these vessels may have been carried by travellers on their journeys, but the ones that have survived are so sumptuous that they probably had a more domestic function.
Condition: Very fine. Completely intact. No chips or cracks. Iridescence and surface accretions with remains of an old sale label on foot.
Dimensions: 14cm x 8cm approx.
Provenance: Ex. Bonhams of New Bond St, London, UK (with original sale label): from a private collection acquired in Smyrna in 1911, thence by descent.
Pilgrim bottles or flasks are vessels with a body varying from an almost full circle, flattened, to a pear shape with a short neck, a spreading foot, and, generally, two loops on the shoulders. Through the loops either a chain or a cord was passed for carrying the bottle or for maintaining the stopper in place.
Pilgrim bottles date to ancient Roman times in the West and to 7th-century China in the East. They were made in a wide range of materials, including earthenware, porcelain, silver, and glass, and also in more perishable materials such as leather. Originally these vessels may have been carried by travellers on their journeys, but the ones that have survived are so sumptuous that their function was probably purely ornamental. If they were used, it must have been, as in the case of some of the traveling tea or coffee sets of Meissen porcelain, exclusively by the very wealthy.
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