This remarkable flask is a considerable feat of manufacture. The zinc used in the body is of very high quality; this is then overlaid by brass wire ribs that emphasise the elegance of the form. Above and below it is balanced by panels worked in a completely different technique.
As noted by James Allan, Tabriz was the centre for the production of zinc in the early Safavid period, a time when its purification to a workable metal had only just been achieved (Jon Thompson and Sheila R. Canby (eds.), The Hunt for Paradise, exhibition catalogue, New York and Milan, 2003, pp.218 and 226). The prototype for this flask is the outstanding inset silver and gold overlaid zinc bottles that are now in the Topkapi museum, Istanbul (Arthur Upham Pope, A Survey of Persian Art, Oxford, 1938, pl.1380; Hunt for Paradise, pp.208-209), although there is certainly a very large difference in quality between the two. After the metalworkers of Tabriz moved to Istanbul following the battle of Chaldiran, the technology to create vessels in zinc seems no longer to have existed in Iran. Certainly there are no zinc vessels that have been attributed to Safavid Iran post 1517.
The form of the present bottle is very similar to that of 17th century pottery vessels, especially those attributed to the reign of Shah 'Abbas II by Yolande Crowe (Persia and China, Safavid Blue and White Ceramics in the Victoria and Albert Museum, 1501-1738, London, 2002, esp. nos.226-241, pp.148-153). The visual separation of the top of this flask from the design on the rest of the body, combined with the constricted mouth, are both very reminiscent of the qalian bodies among the above vessels. The period of Shah 'Abbas II (1642-1666 AD) thus seems the most probable date of manufacture.
The technique used for the silver decoration that is added to the brass foot and mouth is one that is not normally encountered in Islamic metalworking. Although the metalworker had the ability to anneal brass strips so they adhere to a zinc body, he does not seem to have had the knowledge or ability to perform a similar operation to anneal the silver onto brass. He has therefore used some form of composition or even glue which over time has lost its strength, resulting in the loss of most of the silver decoration at these points. The designs can however still be seen in the remaining composition or glue.