Pilgrim Flask
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Italian, Murano, late 1400s or early 1500s
Free-blown colorless (slightly pink) glass with gold leaf, enamel, and applied decoration
14 13/16 x 7 7/8 in.

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From the shape of dried gourds used by travelers to carry drinking water, metalworkers patterned their versions of these flasks. From the metal examples, with their tall tapering necks and flat oval bodies, artists in glass and ceramics made their own purely decorative versions of these pilgrim flasks. The gilded knobs attached to the sides above and below the bulge of the body imitate the loops that would have originally attached the flask to the pilgrim's side; glassworkers retained them as a decorative reminder of the vessel's earlier function.

A variety of decorative techniques embellish this heavy glass pilgrim flask. Bands of gold leaf, incised in a crosshatched pattern and framed by a single row of white enamel dots, garnish the mouth and foot rim. At the base of the neck is a similar but plain band. A decorative medallion in incised gold leaf and blue and white dots adorns the center of each side of the body.