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Sasanian and Post-Sasanian Glass in The Corning Museum of Glass

Beyond the eastern frontier of the Roman Empire lay the territory of the Sasanians, a dynasty that originated in southern Iran. Between the early third and mid-seventh centuries, the Sasanians ruled a vast empire that extended from Mesopotamia to parts of Central Asia. Some Sasanian glass was similar in form and decoration to Roman production, but other pieces were inspired by a specifically Iranian style.

This catalog contains 72 objects in the collection of The Corning Museum of Glass that are believed to be Sasanian or “post-Sasanian” (i.e., made in Sasanian style in the centuries immediately following the fall of the Sasanid dynasty). The uncertainty about their origin derives from the fact that relatively few Sasanian glass vessels have been excavated from controlled archeological contexts. No Sasanian glass collection of comparable size and variety has yet been published, and thus the objects at Corning provide a starting point for anyone who wishes to study the glass made in the Sasanian Empire.

The catalog is divided into eight sections, usually on the basis of the technique used to form or finish the objects. Section A contains a single object formed by pressing molten glass in a mold. Sections B–D consist of blown vessels: the one in section B is without decoration, in C the decoration was mold-blown, and in D it was applied. Section E presents stamped or pressed appliqués, section F is devoted to blown and cast vessels with facet-cut ornament, section G contains beads, and section H discusses one modern forgery.

Each catalog entry consists of a detailed description, usually accompanied by a comment on the significance of the object and notes on similar pieces in other collections. Every object is illustrated by a color photograph and a line drawing that shows the profile. Two appendixes provide information on fragments collected from three archeological sites in central Iraq and chemical analyses of Sasanian glass, including objects in the collection at Corning. The volume also includes concordances, an index, and an extensive bibliography.

Pages: 
112 pages, 79 color illustrations and drawings
Author: 
David Whitehouse
Sasanian and Post-Sasanian Glass in The Corning Museum of Glass