Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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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
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 457
This exquisitely carved cylindrical box is believed to be one of the most accomplished works of a master from the palace of the Umayyad caliph ‘Abd al-Rahman III (r. 912–61), who ruled most of the Iberian peninsula. To judge from other examples, the missing domed lid of this box likely had an inscription giving the owner’s name and the date. Islamic pyxides, known as ushnan in Arabic, were exclusively secular and were used to store jewelry and cosmetics. The incorporation of birds, lions, and gazelles amid richly carved vine scrolls is typical of dense symmetrical Islamic design, which, in turn, influenced the decoration of European Romanesque ivories and manuscripts.
#135. Pyxis
For Audio Guide tours and information, visit metmuseum.org/audioguide.
Count J. Revertera-Salandra (sold Sotheby's, London, May 16, 1958, lot 27) ; Ernst and Marthe Kofler-Truniger, Lucerne (sold 1970)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Patterns of Collecting," December 6, 1975–March 23, 1976.

Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. "Earth, Sea, Sky. Nature in Western Art: Masterpieces from the Metropolitan Museum of Art," October 6, 2012–January 4, 2013.

Beijing. National Museum of China. "Earth, Sea, Sky. Nature in Western Art: Masterpieces from the Metropolitan Museum of Art," February 8, 2013–May 9, 2013.

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