About this artwork
Glass containers like this one were used to store kohl, a mineral compound used to dramatic effect to darken eyelids and eyelashes. Containers for cosmetics were fashioned out of a variety of materials in addition to glass, including metal, ivory, bone, and wood. In his writings, the third-century church father Saint Clement of Alexandria (d. 215) mentions white lead, charcoal, and even the “droppings of crocodiles” as common ingredients for cosmetics, although he must be regarded as a hostile witness at best. Nevertheless, the fact that his writings feature such detail about the use of makeup attests to its ubiquity.
Multicompartment kohl containers were formed when a hollow tube of glass was folded in half, thereby creating two tubular containers from one. Over time, the appearance of these vessels became more elaborate and whimsical.
- Kohl Container
- 401 CE–600 CE
- Glass, blown technique
- 12.3 × 5.5 × 4.5 cm (4 7/8 × 2 1/8 × 1 3/4 in.)
- Gift of Theodore W. and Frances S. Robinson