FOOTED CUP OR « CHALICE » IN TERRACOTTA
Deep cup in lightly buffed terracotta, ovoid and globular shape, with one foot resting on a circular pedestal. This fine and filtered clay piece was created using the colombine method. At the base of the pedestal there is a small lip typical of these types of bowls.
Found in Bactria, these cups have an astonishing purity of form. They wear their 5000 years of age with panache, and belong to the ranks of the first pottery made by modern man. Bactria is a region bordered by the mountains of the Hindu Kush and the Amu Darya River. In the Neolithic age it reached as far as India to the South, and Sogdiana and Scythia to the East. Its early stages were influenced by the civilisation of Mohenjodaro, which were coming up from the Indus Valley, before migrating towards the West. In fact, these vases are very similar in shape to some that have been found in the east of Iran. The humid climate of the Bronze Age was very different to the arid one we see in the region today. This permitted a superb urban civilisation to develop. Their agriculture flourished to the extant that some people see it as the cradle of the Persian civilisation and the Zoroastrian religion. Not only was fine pottery created there, but it was also the site of the development of the first cities, with irrigation systems that are still in use today. All of this definitively marked the beginning of sedentary culture. These potteries, with their globular form, perched high on their large, slender pedestals, belong to what archaeologists call “the chalices of Bactria”. One of these vases has a long curved pouring spout that is later found in Persian pottery. Two others were made by coiling, piling small rolls of clay on top of each other, and they are recognisable by the rim on the base of the pedestal. Their clay, with its soft pinkish colour, is typical of this fine and sophisticated production. A real emotion is aroused by these everyday objects from the Neolithic, marked with so much simplicity and elegance. This collection of vases comes from the collection of Jean-Pierre Carbonnel (1937-2002), an eminent scientist who collected many Bactrian pieces while he was Director of the permanent mission of the French National Centre for Scientific Research in Afghanistan.