Location or Findspot (Modern-Day Country): Syria
Dimensions: 6.2 × 4.8 × 2.9 cm
Description: This enameled-glass bottle, with a tiny opening in the neck, was used to sprinkle perfume and advertise affiliation. The same decoration appears on both sides, but with different colors on each. The lion was the emblem of the first Mamluk sultan, the former soldier-slave Baybars (r. 1260–77), who stopped the Mongols' westward advance. The lion was used on several buildings associated with Baybars and his son, including a madrasa in Cairo (the Mamluk capital) and the captured crusader castle at Kerak. The diagonal stripes, however, were associated with a branch of the Ayyubids based in Hama, Syria. The heraldry thus suggests that the bottle belonged to an official in Hama who owed allegiance to Baybars or his son. Heraldic emblems were already common in the Seljuq realms and in Europe, but this is an early example of heraldry on a Mamluk object. In the following century, bands of inscriptions replaced figural motifs.
Relevant Textbook Chapter(s): 9
Repository and Online Resources: • See the other side of the perfume sprinkler on the website of the Corning Museum of Glass.
Image Credits: Linda Safran
Tags: Islamicate, Mediterranean, North African, Western Asian, Status and identity, Animals, Heraldry