In Ancient Egypt, alabaster jars were used as containers for ointment, perfume, and other cosmetic products, such as kohl. The alabaster used by ancient civilisations in the wider Middle East (including Egypt and Mesopotamia) is also called “oriental alabaster”, which is a type of calcite. Many ancient peoples used alabaster for decoration, as it was easy to carve and could be treated in such a way as to resemble marble. Although being a soft and slightly porous stone made alabaster easy to carve, the upshot 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 New Kingdom Alabaster Perfume Bottle
An Egyptian banded piriform alabaster perfume bottle. The vessel tapers towards a small, rimmed neck with two solid side lugs and rounded base.
Period: Middle Kingdom
Provenance: Ex Rihani Family collection, 1990s.
Condition: Very good condition.