Pharmaceutical jar

Type: Ceramics
Date: first half of thirteenth century
Location or Findspot (Modern-Day Country): Syria
Dimensions: H 26 cm
Description: Cylindrical glazed ceramic vessels like this one originally held pharmaceuticals or spices; the top would have been sealed with leather, parchment, or wax. Such a vessel is commonly called an albarello; this Italian word may be derived from the Latin for "white," referring to the color of the clay. The material is fritware, clay mixed with ground glass or quartz and fired at a low temperature before glazing. Applying the glaze, in this case cobalt and luster, made the piece harder and less porous. The fact that the glazing does not cover the whole interior suggests that the contents were not liquid; perhaps they were plants or powders. This jar was likely made in Raqqa, Syria, an important center of ceramic production until the Mongol invasion of the mid-thirteenth century.
Relevant Textbook Chapter(s): 8
Image Credits: Aga Khan Museum; Wikimedia Commons

« Back

Detail of albarello, AKM787 Top of albarello, AKM787 Albarello, AKM 787