Pyxis

Date: ca. 950–75

Geography: Made in Cordoba, Andalusia, Spain

Culture: Spanish

Medium: Elephant ivory

Dimensions: Overall: 4 5/8 x 4 1/8 in. (11.7 x 10.5 cm)

Classification: Ivories

Credit Line: The Cloisters Collection, 1970

Accession Number: 1970.324.5

Description

The pyxis (round box) cut from the cross-section of an elephant's tusk, was a well-known form of ivory object in the Mediterranean area. The missing lid of this example, shaped as a low dome with a finial on top, would likely have had an inscription on it, perhaps giving a date or the name of the owner of the piece. Used principally in a secular context, in the Islamic world pyxides, call ushnan in Arabic, contained precious aromatics such as musk, camphor, and ambergris.

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