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Pilgrim Bottle

The pilgrim flask form was widespread in both time and place and was produced in a variety of media, including Venetian glass, Central Asian leather, and Chinese ceramics. Some have suggested that the round, moon-shaped form originated in the Near East, but no matter what the origin, the various examples bear witness to travel of both people and technologies throughout the diverse cultural landscape of the Silk Route.

This brilliant green bottle recalls the leather water pouches carried by the seminomadic Qidan people, founders of the Liao dynasty (907–1125) in northern China. The bottle’s lead glaze and incised peony sprays demonstrate the continuation of the technical expertise and design of the Chinese Tang dynasty (618–907) by the Qidans.


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