Selected and rare materials, excerpts and observations from ancient, medieval and contemporary authors, travelers and researchers about Cyprus.
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t is unnecessary here for me to enter upon a dissertation concerning ancient glass. Many-works and treatises upon this fertile subject will recur to the minds of most readers; and there are, indeed, few antiquaries who do not know where to turn for information as to the various characteristics which ancient glass exhibits, the shapes and peculiarities which the vessels themselves affect, their sizes and colours, and even the successive steps in the manufacture of the material. Exquisitely beautiful examples of ancient glass are preserved in many museums, and to them the Island of Cyprus, where the arts which ministered to taste and refinement pre-eminently flourished, has not been found slow to contribute. The total number of these remains in the Lawrence-Cesnola collection is very considerable, probably not fewer than four thousand in all. There can be no reasonable doubt that some of these examples were made at Tyre by Phœnician workmen, who were for a long time the sole possessors of the craft of producing and shaping the material. Others, again, are Greek, and many belong to the Roman period. It is difficult in many instances, so closely do the styles approach each other, to distinguish the one class from the other. These articles are of various sizes, from the tiny unguentarium, lachrymatory, or "tear-bottle", which was doubtless used to contain scented fluids or essences of unusual preciousness, to vases which are capable of holding as much as half a gallon of costly liquids. Besides these, there is a certain number of phialai or paterœ of differing diameters, none of which exceed a foot. A patera of pale clear citron colour has two handles in the form of serpents crawling on its edge. Several paterœ comprise cords of cotton, a material which appears to have been coloured before it was incorporated into the edges of the vessels, which have been turned over for the purpose. Bowls exist in the collection, some of which have been moulded in radially-disposed flutings, and some are impressed with patterns. These, like many other examples, reproduce patterns of metal ware. Many acetabula also occur, including a few which are sumptuously coloured in purple lines. Of these, some have their sides pressed inwards, in order to afford a safe holding for the fingers. One or two bear devices moulded in relief. Of these, one bears three of the so-called "Amazonian" shields, with satyric masks, tears, a laurel wreath, and archaic trees. The bottles are, for the most part, tall and thin, some having short and others long necks, short and bulbous forms, with narrow or wide mouths lipped and lipless. Others are with, and some are without, handles; some are ovoid; others are square, globular, fluted, depressed, or oblong. Many of them exactly reproduce the forms of metal, and not a few exhibit the shapes of ceramic types. Two oblong plates of glass occur among the remains of that material, measuring eight inches by six. The very nature and form of these articles suggest their employment as window-panes. These were found in Salamis, and connected with terra-cotta sarcophagi of the Roman period, which were generally made with covers, while few of them consist of one piece. Usually, they are composed of two or more square tiles cemented together. The glass was intended to allow the faces of the" dead to he seen within the coffins. The bodies of these sarcophagi are enriched with rude reliefs of bulls, birds, and festoons of flowers bearing traces of colour. On a single tile of this kind, I found a long Greek inscription, giving an account of the family of the deceased and his quality. Among the greatest varieties of ancient glass are two beautiful amphora?, i.e., "lachrymatories", of a pale and delicate green colour, and four inches long, both of which were fitted with funnel-shaped neck linings of pure gold, which are now detached from the glass. They are probably used to strengthen the glass. In the New York Collection of Cypriote Antiquities is a similar object, attached to an alabastron-shaped vase of crystal. One of the rarest of the kind before us is a small lachrymatory of very dark colour, and richly painted with flowers and birds in a spirited and entirely realistic manner, and of the most unusual style. It may be of Greek origin. The figure is the full size of the relic. (See Plate.) There is a figure of a peacock in the centre of the bottle, perched upon flowering foliage, elegantly depicted, and on the other side a flock of singing birds appear to be disporting among the flowering branches, which the artist who decorated this beautiful, indeed unique, vase, has represented in a charmingly natural manner. The lining of the stopper is worthy of attention on account of the comparative rarity of such adjuncts to ancient bottles. Equally interesting is a circular lid of hand-painted glass (fig. 174), on which is a figure of Venus, undraped, with an ample robe, arranged in elegant folds, falling down behind and at her side.


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