The “Oriental” alabaster variety was highly regarded for the making of small vessels, perfume bottles or ointment vases called alabastra. In Egypt, craftsmen used alabaster for canopic jars and various other sacred and sepulchral objects, but also for everyday items, like kohl jars and perfume containers. As a soft and porous material, it was easier to carve than marble. Such a bottle would have likely held precious liquids and oils, used to anoint the body. Although being a soft and slightly porous stone made alabaster easy to carve, the downside was that it would not survive for significant periods of time when exposed to the elements. The name “alabaster” is thought to have derived from the Ancient Egyptian, ‘a-labaste’, which refers to the vessels of the goddess, Bast. Usually depicted as a lioness, her figure would often sit on top of alabaster vessels.
Egyptian Alabaster Perfume Bottle
An Egyptian alabastron, a cosmetic bottle made in the homonymous alabaster stone, used in Antiquity for storing ointments. The long cylindrical body, expanding in the central section and then narrowing again towards the top and bottom, features two small lug handles to the sides and an irregular rim to the top. A lid would have originally been part of the bottle, keeping any liquids stored inside fresh for use.
Period: Late Dynastic Period
Condition: Fine, some irregularities to the rim and the stone, due to weathering. Item comes with custom made stand. Original collection tag attached to the vessel.