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OTTOMAN POWDER-FLASK

Place of Origin: TURKEY

Date: 19th Century

Reference: 327

Status: Available

Full Description:

A well-preserved Ottoman powderflask inlaid throughout with a multitude of decorative bone pieces of various shapes and sizes.

The centre of each face is inlaid with bone and delicately carved to depict a series of concentric circles which form the core of an eight-pronged star, each of the eight pointed rays bordered with rows of rhomboid segments. Zygulski notes that the eight-pointed bone star represents the Seal of Solomon in Ottoman iconography: “A variation of the sign [the six-pointed star] was a star with eight arms, a derivation with higher magic power.”[1] It would seem the original owner of this flask was eager to bring such power with him to the battlefield.

Further stylised stars then fill the space left between the rays, each set within a small frame formed of curving orange painted lines and further borders of rhomboid or diamond-shaped bone pieces, the latter of which appear again to fill the borders of a circle containing the central arrangement. This decorative scheme of pleasing symmetry and harmony is repeated as the flask expands, and again over and across the flared top-section of the flask, the cap of which is fitted with a brass spring-operated mechanism for dispensing the gunpowder when needed.

A yellowish-green cord still fits through the iron loops for suspension at the flask’s sides, the flat reverse of the flask attached with a large brass hook for hanging from a belt, and the whole surface remaining mostly undecorated besides a number “191” painted in black.

The Aga Khan Museum in Canada has in its collection a bone-inlaid panel (Accession Number: AKM703)[2] of similar form to our own, though it is dated to the second half of the 15th century.


[1] Zdzisław Żygulski Jr., Ottoman Art in the Service of the Empire, New York University Press, New York & London, p. 44.