The Lost Peace
When you hear ‘Syria’ what comes to your mind? Perhaps the misery of the people, and the amount of Syrian refugees found in other countries due to the sad situation today in their own country. It was a land of fruits, greenery and nature. Syria is known as a rich country with a well-known historical background. One of the things that came from Syria was this flask that catches peoples attention. Elements such as composition, color and shape (in the form of birds and trees) were used to emphasize the story about the natural environment of Syria before the war.
The flask is a beautiful example of artwork from the 12th century from Syria possibly in Raqqah, a city located on the north bank of the Euphrates River. The Flask is presented in the Museum of Islamic Art. It is placed on the second floor along with the Charger from turkey, the Inkwell from Afghanistan and many other historical displays. The flask of Syria is made of glass, gilding and is blue in color. It is about 18-20 inches high and about 6 inches in width, displayed on a grey wooden box, which is kept on a platform, and the background of the platform is painted in grey. The lighting of the display enhances the elements of the flask. Under the box is a tag with information about the flask in both English and Arabic. Audio facility is also available if you want to listen to the information.
The structure of the flask is really unusual because of the elongated shape tapering at the bottom and broadening on the top. It has intricate patterns with cobalt blue color. These figures were highly in fashion during the Byzantine rule in Greece. The top part of the flask looks symmetrical. The mouth of the flask is more like a bottle and just under it, on the neck of the flask there are gold triangles running all around. Under the triangles is are birds on each side looking away from each other and some leaves sticking out. Also, there are gold dots and leaves scattering all over the flask. Below the bird is a golden design of flowers and something like leaves and a line that is composed of zigzag geometric shapes between two circular gold lines. After the gold lines with the zigzag comes two birds facing each other and below that is the big tree. There is so much emphasis on the central part of the flask, which is that big tree, it is composed of circular shapes with too legs under it. Looking at the tree you could see a cross but when you look closer it appears to have another line near the bottom and also, instead of a regular cross which is just a straight line at the bottom is what looks like a cross in the tree then splits into two which also makes it seem that it is not a cross. Under the tree are also birds facing different directions and under the birds comes the lines with the zigzag. Then comes the base. The base of the flask has birds facing each other and two lines at the bottom that look decolorized.
With time the flask has developed some marks left over it yet, the colors still look rich. The flask may have been used for drinking but looking at the exterior of the flask with the unique design, people would doubt that it has been used for drinking and was probably just used for display.
There is no element of this work that specifically ties back to the characteristics of Islamic Art. The flask can be seen as having more of a universal application as opposed to a strictly Islamic one. This is for several reasons for example; the bird and the tree can be related to anything other than Islamic art too.
The Museum of Islamic Art is the best in many people’s opinion, and what makes it the best are the exhibits like these, because of the abundant exhibits of various centuries.
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