Kohl containers

This is a Fatimid rock crystal Kohl container, made between 939–1010 C.E. The jar would have had a glass rod in it, to apply the Kohl, which was made out of burnt frankincense, almond shells or Safflower plants. This is a Mamluk ivory inlaid with niello Kohl container, made between the 14th–15th century. The applicator was attached by chain. This is an Ottoman cast silver Kohl bottle. It is dated to 1594 C.E. and was hammered and incised. The applicator stick was attached to the bottle with a chain, through the “tail” of the bird.

Taken from Museum With No Frontiers website.

3 comments on “Kohl containers

  1. Tig says:

    I have to say that the Museum in Egypt (I tracked the items down to double check my comments), might have it a little confused as to the inlay material. Niello is a mixture of copper, silver, and lead sulphides that are melted together, poured into an engraved or incised depression then fired in a furnace/kiln to enable the black to form. If you exposed ivory to that sort of heat I reckon it wouldn’t take too kindly to it!

    Wish I had the time to take one of their curators to task over their description of that middle item above!!! The white triangular design around the black, appears to be whiter than the main body of the item, which certainly appears to be ivory of some sort. I’m wondering if the white triangles aren’t another gem material again, such as mother of pearl.

    The same article discusses kohl being made from copper, lead and burnt saffron. Seems there may be a few recipes about perhaps?

    Fascinating. Thankyou for maintaining this blog. I do enjoy reading it and have subscribed so I always get to see your posts.

    ~ Tig

    • Yes, looking at the zoom picture (through the MWNF website) it looks like ivory inlaid with wood and gold highlights. However, I am no curator! My husband suggested mother-of-pearl too, but I am unsure.

      I love hearing from people & I am glad you like the blog 🙂

      • Tig says:

        No problem! I’d suggest, that if you think it looks like wood, that it is probably ebony which was used extensively for micromosaic inlay work with mother-of-pearl (or mop as it is known in the trade) 🙂 Jewellery techniques are definitely something I know a little about. You can still buy niello, although I know of only one company that still makes it and they’re in Germany. I personally prefer to leave lead well alone!

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