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23 glass Tesserae from Ancient Egypt on card

Made
Tesserae, glass, maker unknown, Artas Egypt.

These tesserae total 23 in number. They are made of coloured glass of varying colours:
9 of them are a translucent yellow
3 of them are a light translucent green
2 of them are a matt green/turquoise
3 of them are a dark amber
1 is a dark matt cobalt blue
1 is a dark matt brown
3 are a translucent brown
1 is matt red/brown
All of them are roughly square and demonstrate varying sizes. they have been stuck to a cardboard sheet, 6 of which have fallen …

Summary

Object No.

11117-10

Object Statement

Tesserae (23), various colours, glass / cardboard, maker unknown, Artas, Egypt, date unknown, acquired 1886

Physical Description

Tesserae, glass, maker unknown, Artas Egypt.

These tesserae total 23 in number. They are made of coloured glass of varying colours:
9 of them are a translucent yellow
3 of them are a light translucent green
2 of them are a matt green/turquoise
3 of them are a dark amber
1 is a dark matt cobalt blue
1 is a dark matt brown
3 are a translucent brown
1 is matt red/brown
All of them are roughly square and demonstrate varying sizes. they have been stuck to a cardboard sheet, 6 of which have fallen off.

Production

Notes

Tesserae (coming from the Greek word for "four sided") are small pieces of stone, glass, ceramic, or other hard materials that have been cut in a square or cubical shape to compose a mosaic. Their sizes generally range from a few millimetres to 2 cms long and 5-10 millimetres thick. The manufacture of such glass objects demonstrated competency and knowledge of high temperature glass composition and also the advanced technical skill of ancient glass craftsmen. Once the glass had been produced in molten form it was then poured into large flat moulds. Once cooled, the glass would be cut into the small square pieces. There was great variability in the colours and textures of the glass that ranged from matt to translucent types. As the craft progressed more fanciful varieties of tesserae were created such as the "smalti' (produced by adding crystalline and coloured material to the colourless or coloured fused glass) and gold or silver leaf tesserae (where thin plates of gold or silver leaf were put between two slabs of molten glass, one thicker than the other, to produce a mirror like piece that was then cut into tesserae added to the tesserae resulting in a brilliant shimmering effect).

History

Notes

Early Mosaics made by the Greeks and also by the Early Romans were normally made of especially hard materials such as pebbles or stones cut from marble that would be appropriate for flooring. Later mosaics were made by applying tiny fragments (tesserae) of marble in various colours to create images of great decorative value.

Coloured glass mosaics came into fashion between the 3rd and 1st centuries BCE, where fragile glass tesserae were used sparingly in floor mosaics to provide pure blues, reds, and greens that could not be found in the more durable natural stone.

In the 1st and 3rd century AD wall mosaics became a popular form of decoration particularly in churches and mosques and glass tesserae of every hue were produced to constitute the major part of this decoration, stone being mainly reserved for floors.

Cite this Object

Harvard

23 glass Tesserae from Ancient Egypt on card 2021, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 19 January 2022, <https://ma.as/1345>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/1345 |title=23 glass Tesserae from Ancient Egypt on card |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=19 January 2022 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}