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Bactrian Alabaster Chalice
Geneva | Sculpture
 
Date:  2500 BC - 1900 BC
Culture:  Bactrian
Category:  Sculpture
Medium:  Stone
Dimension: H 34 cm
Price: $7,800.00
Provenance: Acquired on the London Art Market, 2000.
Serial No: 10975

This object, whose shape recalls a chalice, was carved from a monolith of calcite (alabaster) that is similar in color and appearance to the stone commonly used by Egyptian sculptors for luxury tableware in the late 4th millennium B.C. already.
The clear, vertical veins that furrow the stem and the cylindrical vessel emphasize the impression of lightness conveyed by the work’s outline. Such a high degree of accuracy would have been achieved by the use of the centrifugal force produced by the rapid rotation of a potter’s wheel. The vessel was then carefully hand polished with sand for a smooth surface finish.
As it is often the case in such remote periods and for cultures preceding the invention of writing, the exact purpose of this object remains unclear: a ritual vase, an incense burner, an offering to a deity or a gift between high-ranking figures are among the possible hypotheses.