Rare antique Italian carved bone gunpowder flask


This 19th-century Italian gunpowder flask, sculpted from a single mammalian femur bone, merges functional design with intricate narrative artistry, embodying the era's aristocratic hunting traditions.


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This 19th-century Italian gunpowder flask, created with an unconventional flair, showcases craftsmanship of remarkable ingenuity. Crafted meticulously from a singular mammalian femur bone, the selection of this material not only speaks to its structural resilience but also highlights the natural curves that bestow an inherent organic appeal upon this practical artifact. The choice of the material also binds  the object with its purpose.

The artisan transformed the external surface of the flask into a captivating tableau. It features a multitude of intricate hunting vignettes, chiseled with a keen sense of detail that encapsulates the enduring bond between humans and nature, as well as the primal exhilaration of the hunt. Adding depth to these depictions, the creator has woven in renditions of mythological tales, including an imaginative scene of two mythical female figures commanding a chariot drawn by geese.

The flask is embellished with beautifully sculpted bands of acanthus leaf and wheat patterns. Adorning the base, mid-section, and top of the flask, these classical motifs symbolize nature's bounty and agricultural affluence, infusing additional layers of symbolism into the artifact.

The exceptional quality of the carving suggests it was commissioned by an aristocratic or influential patron, as flasks of this nature were traditionally employed for hunting – a sport savored by the Italian nobility of the era. The elaborate craftsmanship elevates this piece from merely functional to a true work of art and further suggests that the flask was commissioned by an august hunter.

Catering to its hunting purpose, the flask is equipped with two robust metal rings affixed to its side. These rings provide a secure means of attachment to a belt or bag, a pragmatic detail that doesn't compromise the artistic finesse of the piece. The narrower top section of the flask incorporates a carefully drilled hole, acting as an access point for the contained gunpowder.

This bone gunpowder flask transcends its utilitarian nature. It represents a harmonious fusion of artistry and practicality, a creative intersection of narrative and design. The flask stands as a testament to the impeccable craftsmanship in 19th Century Italy, offering an illuminating glimpse into the traditions and lifestyle of the culture from which it emerged.


Country of Origin
Date of Manufacture
19th Century
19th Century
Black, Cream


36 cm / 14.2 inches
11 cm / 4.3 inches
11 cm / 4.3 inches


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