Bowl with Nilotic Scene

Object Name: 
Bowl with Nilotic Scene

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Object Name: 
Bowl with Nilotic Scene
Place Made: 
Accession Number: 
Overall H: 4.4 cm, Diam (max): 20.2 cm
On Display
Credit Line: 
Purchased in part with funds from the Ennion Society and the Houghton Endowment Fund
Web Description: 
The decorative scheme for this bowl is known as a “Nilotic scene” since many of the elements reference the exotic flora and fauna of the Nile valley. In a beautiful arrangement across the dark purple surface of the interior, colorful birds are shown in a watery environment, among them a flamingo, a heron, ducks, and possibly a partridge. Care was taken to differentiate the colors of the various parts of the bird’s anatomy and feathers– tails, wings, beaks, feet. The orientation of the birds is on the same horizontal plane; all are meant to be seen from a single vantage point. In contrast, an abstract array of different colorful flowers, rosettes, and strips of cane are arranged around the figures of the birds. The flowers include nelumbo lotuses (seemingly depicted both as blossoms and seed pods) and other rosette-and heart-shaped buds. Uniquely, an eight-winged dragonfly is also shown. X-shaped striped cane segments are used to position some of the floral designs, and the background is scattered with a round rosette cane segment consisting of a yellow background with dark, radiating stripes. This scene is characteristic of later Roman art, and similar Nilotic landscapes can be found on the floor mosaics and wall frescoes that decorated Roman houses. The bowl was constructed by first creating the glass disc that forms the background for the scene. The elements of the composition were arranged on the disc, and then heated and pressed until they were embedded in the purple glass. The disc was then placed over a bowl-shaped form and slumped into its curved shape. After annealing, the bowl was ground and polished. While numerous fragments of similarly-inlaid and decorated bowls and plates are known, this is the first example that has survived from antiquity nearly intact. Bowls of this shape were often used for drinking wine, and one can imagine that when the contents of this bowl were full, the birds and flowers would have appeared to be floating in the waters of the Nile.
Slava, Mr. Yevdayev, Source
Slava, Mrs. Yevdayev, Source
Khakhamo, Pinhas, Former Collection
Primary Description: 
Bowl with Inlaid Nilotic Scene. Against a background of a dark, aubergine glass, a fantastic scene of a Nilotic landscape is presented in the form of colorful birds, a dragonfly, plants and flowers. The decorative elements are inlaid into the background glass. On the underside is an incised circle. The bowl was manufactured in multiple steps. The first step in the process of manufacturing this bowl was to shape a purple glass disk, into which the scenic elements were inlaid. The inlay technique could have been achieved in two ways. One scenario would have the scenic elements distributed across the surface of the disk, which was then carefully reheated and the elements pressed flat with a tool until they became embedded (inlaid) in the purple glass. In the second scenario, the scenic elements were laid out on a flat surface, and the heated purple disk was placed on top of them. The disk was then pressed onto the elements until they were submerged into the disk sufficiently. The decorated disk was then transferred to a slumping form to give it is present shape. It was carefully pushed over the form to better conform to it. After annealing, the bowl was finished by grinding and polishing.
Jurors' Choice (New Glass Review 35) (2014) illustrated, p. 88, top;
Archaologischer Kalender 2014 (2013-06) illustrated, pp. 29, 30;
Corning museum acquires rare glass antiquities (2013-01-10) illustrated, p. 2;
Notes: Corning Museum Makes Significant Acqusitions in 2012 (2013) illustrated, p. 250, #2;
The Corning Museum of Glass: Notable Acquisitions 2012 (2013) illustrated, Front Cover; p.4; pp.8-9, #2; BIB# AI95675
The Corning Museum of Glass Annual Report 2012 (2012) illustrated, pp. 5, 7; BIB# AI94590
Two Significant Acquisitions of Ancient Glass (2012) illustrated, p. 15 (top); BIB# AI93453