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And besides the many
gredients fused in the same manner. glass ornaments known to be of an earlier period is a bead, found at Thebes, bearing the name of a Pharaoh who lived about 1450 B.C., the specific gravity of which, 25° 23', is precisely the same as of crown glass, now manufactured in England.
378. Figs. 1, 2. Glass bottles represented in the sculptures of Thebes.
4. The hieroglyphics on the bead, containing the name of Amun-m-het,
Glass bottles, similar to those in the above woodcut (figs. 1, 2), are even met with on monuments of the 4th dynasty, dating long before the Osirtasens, or more than 4000 years ago; the transparent substance shows the red wine they contained; and this kind of bottle is represented in the same manner among the offerings to the gods, and at the fêtes of individuals, wherever wine was introduced, from the earliest to the latest times. Bottles, and other objects of glass, are commonly found in the tombs ; and though they have no kings' names or dates in
scribed upon them (glass being seldom used for such a purpose), no doubt exists of their great antiquity; and we may consider it a fortunate chance that has preserved one bead with the name of a sovereign of the 18th dynasty. Nor is it necessary to point out how illogical is the inference that, because other kinds of glass have not been found bearing a king's name, they were not made in Egypt, at, or even before, the same early period. Pliny ascribes the discovery of glass to some Phoenician sailors accidentally lighting a fire on the sea-shore; but if an effect of chance, the secret is more likely to have been arrived at in Egypt, where natron (or subcarbonate of soda) abounded, than by the sea side; and if the Phoenicians really were the first to discover it on the Syrian coast, this would prove their migration from the Persian Gulf to have happened at a very remote period. Glass was certainly one of the great exports of the Phoenicians; who traded in beads, bottles, and other objects of that material, as well as various manufactures, made either in their own or in other countries; but Egypt was always famed for its manufacture; a peculiar kind of earth was found near Alexandria, without which, Strabo says, "it was impossible to make certain kinds of glass of many colours, and of a brilliant quality;" and some vases, presented by an Egyptian priest to the Emperor Hadrian, were considered so curious and valuable that they were only used on grand occasions.
Glass bottles, of various colours, were eagerly bought from Egypt, and exported into other countries; and the manufacture, as well as the patterns of many of those found in Greece, Etruria, and Rome, show that they were of Egyptian work; and though imitated in Italy and Greece, the original art was borrowed from the workmen of the Nile.
Such, too, was their skill in making glass, and in the mode of staining it of various hues, that they counterfeited with success the emerald, the amethyst, and other precious stones; and even arrived at an excellence in the art of introducing numerous colours into the same vase, to which our European workmen, in spite of their improvements in many branches of this manufac
ture, are still unable to attain. A few years ago the glassmakers of Venice made several attempts to imitate the variety of colours found in antique cups; but as the component parts were of different densities, they did not all cool, or set, at the same rapidity, and the vase was unsound. And it is only by
making an inner foundation of one colour, to which those of the outer surface are afterwards added, that they have been able to produce their many-coloured vases; some of which were sent to the Great Exhibition of 1851.
Not so the Egyptians; who combined all the colours they required in the same cup, without the interior lining: those which had it being of inferior and cheaper quality. They had even the secret of introducing gold between two surfaces of glass; and in their bottles, a gold band alternates within a set of blue, green, and other colours. Another curious process was also common in Egypt in early times, more than 3000 years ago, which has only just been attempted at Venice; whereby the pattern on the surface was made to pass in right lines directly through the substance; so that if any number of horizontal sections were made through it, each one would have the same device on its upper and under surface. It is in fact a Mosaic in glass; made by fusing together as many delicate rods of an opaque glass, of the colour required for the picture; in the same manner as the woods in Tunbridge-ware are glued together, to form a larger and coarser pattern. The skill required in this exquisite work is not only shown by the art itself, but the fineness of the design; for some of the feathers of birds, and other details, are only to be made out with a lens; which means of magnifying was evidently used in Egypt, when this Mosaic glass was manufactured. Indeed the discovery of a lens of crystal by Mr. Layard, at Nimroud, satisfactorily proves its use at an early period in Assyria; and we may conclude that it was neither a recent discovery there, nor confined to that country.
Winckelmann is of opinion that "the ancients carried the art of glassmaking to a higher degree of perfection than ourselves, though it may appear a paradox to those who have not seen
their works in this material;" and we may even add that they used it for more purposes; excepting of course windows, the inconvenience of which in the hot sun of Egypt would have been unbearable; or even in Italy; and only one pane of glass has been found at Pompeii, in a place not exposed to the outer light.
Winckelmann also mentions two pieces of glass mosaic, "one of which, though not quite an inch in length, and a third of an inch in breadth, exhibits on a dark and variegated ground, a bird resembling a duck, in very bright and varied colours, rather in the manner of a Chinese painting than a copy of nature. The outlines are bold and decided, the colours beautiful and pure, and the effect very pleasing; in consequence of the artist having alternately introduced an opaque and a transparent glass. The most delicate pencil of a miniature painter could not have traced with greater sharpness the circle of the eyeball, or the plumage of the neck and wings; at which part this specimen has been broken. But the most surprising thing is, that the reverse exhibits the same bird, in which it is impossible to discover any difference in the smallest details; whence it may be concluded that the figure of the bird continues through its entire thickness. The picture has a granular appearance on both sides, and seems to have been formed of single pieces, like mosaic work, united with so much skill, that the most powerful magnifying glass is unable to discover their junction. From the condition of this fragment, it was at first difficult to form any idea of the process employed in its manufacture: and we should have remained entirely ignorant of it, had not the fracture shown that filaments of the same colours, as on the surface of the glass, and throughout its whole diameter, passed from one side to the other; whence it has been concluded that the picture was composed of different cylinders of coloured glass, which, being subjected to a proper degree of heat, united by (partial) fusion. I cannot suppose they would have taken so much trouble, and have been contented to make a picture only the sixth of an inch thick, while, by employing longer filaments,
they might have produced one many inches in thickness, without occupying any additional time in the process; it is therefore probable this was cut from a larger or thicker piece, and the number of the pictures taken from the same depended on the length of the filaments, and the consequent thickness of the original mass. The other specimen, also broken, and about the size of the preceding one, is made in the same manner. It exhibits ornaments of a green, yellow, and white colour, on a blue ground, which consist in volutes, strings of beads, and flowers, ending in pyramidical points. All the details are perfectly distinct and unconfused, and yet so very minute, that the keenest eye is unable to follow the delicate lines in which the volutes terminate; the ornaments, however, are all continued, without interruption, through the entire thickness of the piece."
Winckelmann is quite right respecting the mode of forming these glass mosaics; which was made more intelligible by a specimen found in Egypt. It consisted of separate squares, whose original division was readily discovered in a bright light, as well as the manner of adjusting the different parts, and of uniting them in one mass; and here and there the heat applied to cement the squares had caused the colours to run between them, in consequence of partial fusion from too strong a fire.
Not only were these various parts made at different times, and afterwards united by heat, rendered effective on their surfaces by means of a flux applied to them, but each coloured line was at first separate, and, when adjusted in its proper place, was connected with those around it by the same process.
The immense emeralds mentioned by ancient authors were doubtless glass imitations of those precious stones. Such were the colossal statue of Serapis, in the Egyptian labyrinth, nine cubits, or thirteen feet and a half, in height; an emerald presented by the king of Babylon to an Egyptian Pharaoh, which was four cubits, or six feet, long, and three cubits broad; and an obelisk in the temple of Jupiter, which was forty cubits, or sixty feet, in height, and four cubits broad, composed of four emeralds; and to have formed statues of glass of such dimensions, even