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Bottle Imitating Leather Water Container

Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art

Pottery Decoration

After a pottery vessel had dried to a leathery consistency, it was ready to be decorated and fired.


The simplest technique was to apply a layer of clay, paint, and water—called slip—on the pot’s drab exterior. Other methods included incising designs with pointed objects, polishing the surface with a cloth, or using a stone to burnish it, creating an attractive sheen.

Painted decorations appear on pottery throughout the Eighteenth Dynasty. Early designs included thin lines and long pendant triangles. Around the time of Thutmose III, artists invented a pastel blue paint that eventually dominated pottery decoration. A rare type of pot made exclusively for tombs was painted to reproduce the appearance of stones such as breccia.

After decorating the vessel, the potter placed it in a kiln for firing. Potters wrapped cords around large unfired vessels to prevent them from collapsing. These ropes burned away during firing, but traces of them remain on the sides of some pots.
MEDIUM Clay
  • Place Made: Egypt
  • DATES ca. 1479-1400 B.C.E.
    DYNASTY Dynasty 18
    PERIOD New Kingdom
    DIMENSIONS 6 1/4 x 4 1/2 x 3 1/4 in. (15.8 x 11.5 x 8.2 cm)
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    ACCESSION NUMBER 16.580.128
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Evangeline Wilbour Blashfield, Theodora Wilbour, and Victor Wilbour honoring the wishes of their mother, Charlotte Beebe Wilbour, as a memorial to their father Charles Edwin Wilbour
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Orange-red polished pottery bottle of flattened globular shape, resembling a pilgrim-bottle. Wide oval, flat bottom, slightly pointed at ends. At each side, near shoulder, a pointed and uptilted pierced lug. Tall cylindrical neck, distinctly offset from body, tapering and then flaring slightly to rather wide, flat lip. A handle, most of which is wanting, connected shoulder in center back with neck at about two-thirds of its height. Condition: Surface very slightly rubbed; otherwise perfect except for missing handles.
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