PAKISTAN, kohl applicators and similar
    Kohl applicators are called salai in Pashto.  Use of kohl for protection of the eyes against blowing dust is at least 3000 years old, possibly older.  Its cosmetic qualities are an added bonus.  Kohl is usually finely ground antimony sulfide.  Occasionally lead sulfide is used as an inferior substitute.  It was and is used from Morocco to India.   The typical kohl applicator from ancient times until today looks like a blunt ended straight pin from 2-5 inches (~3-7cm) long.  From ancient times bronze has been a favorite metal.
      A web search for "kohl" & "kohl applicator" produced a number of references but nothing that could be considered reliable in terms of dating or attributing these objects.  One site gave a picture of a bird head applicator, if maybe a bit short, combined with a tripod bottle of which it obviously was not the mate (different patina, different art), and an attribution to 8th c. BC Baktria which I considered completely thin air.  Another provided a picture of a "Luristani" piece.  My experience is that calling something Luristani is usually another way of saying "I don't know."  Bronze, ancient, eastern, call it Luri, who can contradict you with any authority, especially if there's a ram motif involved!  And the prices they were asking were, oh, average 25 times what I'm asking.  As if they're thinking "It's not selling anyway, might as well raise the price!"
    I am thus, finding myself for the moment completely alone in the ocean of ignorance about these things, going to make a series of guesses as to when they were made.  So all of my attributions must be taken as absolutely provisional.  Anyone who knows about these, please correct my errors.  But I do know where they came from.  All are from the general neighborhood of Swat, Northwest Frontier, Pakistan, where people find ancient objects lying on the ground, don't even have to dig.  And laws - what are they?

PPN10) BAKTRIAN (LURISTAN), c. 2000-1000 BC, bronze pin lot, 70-113mm long,  various head types, from Darel, NWFP, 6 pcs, 1 missing business end, 1 bent shaft, 2 have corroded shafts, 2 are exceptionally choice,  $53.00 sold 2/13/2008
Click picture for enlargement.
 
 
 
 

s3) PRE-GREEK?, before 350 BC, bronze kohl applicator (salai), 89mm long, pomegranite shaped (or maybe its a poppy seed head?) head, tip broken off,  F $29.50 sold
Click picture for enlargement.
 

s2) GREEK - GANDHARA, c. 300 BC - 400 AD, bronze kohl applicator (salai), seminude draped standing male figure, 32mm tall, pin missing, F $48.00 sold
Click picture for enlargement.
 
 
 
 
 
 

s4) GREEK - GANDHARA, c. 300 BC - 400 AD, bronze kohl applicator (salai), draped standing female figure, 31mm tall, only 9mm of pin remains, F $55.00 sold
Click picture for enlargement.
 
 
 
 
 
 

PMX16. GREEK-SCYTHIAN?, c. 300-50 BC, bronze miniature sword, 58mm long, possibly a salai (kohl pick), unknown location in NWF, aVF $70.00 sold
Click picture for enlargement.
 

s5) GREEK - ISLAMIC, c. 300 BC - 1700 AD bronze kohl applicators (salai).  Actually I think these are probably ancient, possibly pre-Greek, but my basis for so thinking is mostly the type of patina/corrosion.  The simplicity of the design doesn't give much to go on.

a) 76mm long, head is a round knob with a flaring base, complete, F $33.00 sold
b) 83mm long, head is a round knob with a double flared base, some linear incised decoration, complete, bit of corrosion at tip, F $33.00 sold
c) 97mm long, head is a round knob with a double flared base, some linear incised decoration, complete, bit of corrosion at tip, F $33.00 sold
d) 116mm long, head is a square knob with a quadruple spindle base, complete, pin slightly bent, corrosion at tip, F $33.00 sold
e) 118mm long, head is a flower bud with a double flared base, some incised decoration, complete, some corrosion on pin, F $33.00 sold
Click picture for enlargement.

s6) HEPHTHALITE-SHAHI?, c. 400-1000 AD?, bronze kohl applicator (salai), 72mm long, head is like a 4-bladed arrowhead, supplier called it such, but he is wrong. Either complete or tip was refinished after it was broken off, F+ $33.00
Click picture for enlargement.
 

s7) HEPHTHALITE-SHAHI?, c. 400-1000 AD?, bronze kohl applicator (salai), 29x24mm head is like a trident, central tine elongated with a round knob on the end.  This would appear to be a strongly Hindu motif.
a) 70mm overall, tip of pin broken, F $21.00
b) head only, tip of a lateral tine is missing, F $5.00
Click picture for enlargement.
 
 

s8) GANDHARA-ISLAMIC?, c. 200-1400 AD?, bronze kohl applicator (salai), 27x17mm, head only in shape of a hand.  The open hand has significance in Hindu, Buddhist, & Islamic iconography.  This is pretty crude in terms of modelling, and the patina makes me think BC.  Very mysterious. F $30.00 sold
Click picture for enlargement.
 
 

s9) GANDHARA-ISLAMIC?, c. 200-1400 AD?, bronze kohl applicator (salai),
a) 128mm, head is a "hand" with 4 stubby "fingers," tip is bulbous.  Beard comb?  Back scratcher?  My gut feeling is that this is mid-late medieval, complete, VF $42.00
b) 87mm, bulbous tips on both ends, I think possibly late medieval, nice patina, complete, "F" $21.00
Click picture for enlargement.

Some bronze kohl applicators (salai) with bird figure head.   Birds seem to be the most common motif for this and similar objects.  I have no trustworthy references for them.  When I asked my supplier I got no useful information.  I had thought for a while that they were early Islamic, as much from the frequency of occurrence as anything else, but that was just an educated guess.  Now I have 2 bird topped jar lids (see below) that actually seem to have some features that remind me of ancient Indus and Baluchi culture.  I have since seen small metal bird things definitively attributed to Indus, and I have seen others with Arabic writing on them, so it is clear that the same motif was used in the region over a period of 2 millennia.

s10) All of these have flattened bodies,
a) 24x26mm bird with rooster comb & leaf-shaped wings, 68mm overall, pin broken, rough green patina, VG $12.00 sold
b) 19x27mm bird with rooster comb & leaf-shaped wings, oversized eyes, tiny piercing through beak, 63mm overall, pin broken, smooth black patina, VF $21.00 sold
c) 23x25mm bird with rooster comb & leaf-shaped wings, oversized eyes, 42mm overall, pin broken, smooth black patina, VF $19.00 sold
d) 22x32mm bird with rooster comb & leaf-shaped wings, 32mm overall, pin broken, rough green patina, VG $9.00 sold
e) 20x29mm bird with rooster comb & leaf-shaped wings, oversized eyes, 34mm overall, pin broken, smooth green patina, aF $10.00 sold
f) 22x27mm bird with rooster comb, wings represented by 3 parallel dotted lines, head only, VF $13.00 sold
Click picture for enlargement.
 

s11) g) 21x27mm bird with rooster comb, body a bit wider than those above, 33mm overall, pin broken, rough, G $6.00 sold
h) 24x28mm bird with rudimentary comb & leaf shaped wings, oversized eyes, well modelled body, 38mm overall, pin broken, moderately smooth black & green patina, aF $12.00 sold
i) 22x28mm bird with rudimentary comb & leaf-shaped wings, fully modelled body, oversized eyes, tiny piercing through beak, head only, a bit rough, aVF $12.00 sold
j) 25x29mm bird with rudimentary comb & leaf-shaped wings, fully modelled body, oversized eyes, head only, smooth black patina, VF $18.00 sold
k) 21x29mm bird with rudimentary comb & leaf-shaped wings, fully modelled body, tiny piercing through beak, 50mm overall, pin broken, smooth green patina, aF $14.00 sold
l) 18x22mm flying duck with backswept leaf shaped wings, head only, smooth black patina, VF $23.00 sold
m) 21x23mm bird with diamond shaped tail, no features at all, on conical base, surmounting iron pin, 48mm overall, pin broken, half rough black patina, $30.00 sold
Click picture for enlargement.

The next groups form a category based on decoration - simple linear incisions, and patina - mostly smooth and black.  I tend towards Islamic as an attribution, possibly 1000-1600 AD.

s12)
n) 109mm long, square profile handle with herringbone decoration topped by a knob, complete, black patina, VF $33.00 sold 9/6/2015
o) 128mm long, square profile handle with a "stacked brick" pattern & a few dotted sections, conical top, complete, somewhat rough black patina, aVF $33.00 sold 9/6/2015
Click picture for enlargement.

s13)
p) 113mm long, square handle with herringbone decoration, hole at end, complete, about half smooth black patina, VF $27.00 sold
q) 110mm long, square profile handle with a "stacked brick" pattern & a few dotted sections, hole at top, complete, mostly rough black patina, F $24.00 sold
r) 114mm long, square profile handle with a "stacked brick" pattern & a few dotted sections, hole at top, complete, slightly bent, rough black patina, VG $20.00 sold
s) 116mm long, square profile handle with a "stacked brick" pattern & a few diamond decorated  sections, hole at top, complete, slightly bent, about half smooth black patina, VF $27.00 sold
t) 114mm long, round profile handle with a "stacked balls & rings" pattern, hole at top, complete, slightly bent, mostly half smooth black patina, VF $30.00 sold
u) 52mm long, round profile "ball on stacked cups" handle, hole at top, unusual curved pin, complete, fine smooth black patina, VF $30.00 sold
Click picture for enlargement.

s14) These are double ended, square profile handle in middle.  Hygienic concept - one side for each eye.
v) 108mm long, undecorated handle, ancient?  Complete, rough green patina, F $21.00 sold
w) 103mm long, handle has incised decoration, medieval? Complete, smooth black patina, VF $21.00 sold
x) 85mm long, double ended, square profile central handle with incised & gouged decoration, c. WWI?  Looks like made of shell case metal, one pin broken, VF $3.00 sold
Click picture for enlargement.
 

other cosmetic related items
back to Pakistan index

home
email
Bob Reis
POB 26303
Raleigh NC 27611
USA
phone: (919) 787-0881
(8:30AM-10:30PM EST only please)
fax: (919) 787-1882
how to order