KOHL VESSEL OF AN EXTINCT CAMELID WITH BIRD DIPPER
Bactrian, 3rd-2nd millennium BC
Height (without pin): 4-7/8 inches (12.4 cm)
Provenance: Galerie Nefer Ancient Art, Zurich
European private collection, acquired in the early 1980s
Published: Sotheby’s, New York, 5 June 2008, Sale no. NO8452, lot 69
Galerie Nefer Ancient Art, Zurich, Nefer 1, 1983, illus.
Giancarlo Ligabue and Sandro Salvatori, eds., Bactria: An Ancient Oasis Civilization from the Sands of Afghanistan, Venice, 1988, p. 184, Col. Fig. 81.
Kohl – a dark, powdered cosmetic produced by pulverizing galena (lead sulfide) and other ingredients. was applied as an eyeliner and mascara in many regions of the ancient Mediterranean. The Bactrian culture produced many vessels for kohl. Their preferred medium was an arsenic copper alloy. Simple cast metal flasks and containers with animal heads in relief abound, but the three-dimensional zoomorphic type are the most charming. This wonderful cosmetic vessel is in the form of an animal, perhaps the Saiga antelope or an extinct relative, stands with his aquiline head turned to his right, with long tail, layered dewlap, long downward-hanging ears, protruding oval eyes, and short ox-like horns. The A cosmetic applicator, surmounted by the figure of a bird remains inserted in the vessel’s neck. The metal has acquired a beautiful, variegated patina.