Wine Goblet with Niello Silver Mounts
height: 16.5cm, weight: 218g
This small, elegant vessel was used at Georgian weddings and other important feasts in the Caucasus as a goblet even though it is in the form of a flask. As
such, it was not intended to have a stopper; it functioned more as a glass or mug in spite of its shape.
It comprises a turned wooden body, and pierced silver mounts that are decorated with fine scrolling leaf designs in niello against a ring-mat ground. The neck
is also decorated with fine silver wire wound neatly around it to form a band.
A hollow, 'S'-shaped silver and niello handle is attached to the thin neck and to the body. The flared silver foot is also decorated with niello work.
The silver mounts are secured to the wooden base by means of small silver pins.
Similar goblets are illustrated in The Caucasian Peoples, (2001, p. 161).
In traditional Georgian society, each festival or feast had its own fixed, communal formula. The tamada or toast-master was the lead figure. He was required to
propose toasts for all present, following strict rules of precedence. He also announced when there would be music, singing and dancing. The tamada was
usually elected from among the most eloquent present. Goblets such as this example would have been supplied at a feast or participants might have chosen
to bring their own.
The Caucasian Peoples, catalogue for an exhibition of the Russian Ethnographic Museum, staged at the Hessenhuis, Antwerp, Belgium, 2001.
Provenance: UK art market.
Inventory no.: 2224
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