Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Fragment of an Oliphant

Object Name:
Fragment of an oliphant
11th–12th century
Attributed to Italy, Sicily
Ivory; carved
Overall: L. 8 3/4 in. (22.2 cm) W. 4 1/8 (10.5 cm) D. 3 9/16 in. (9 cm)
Ivories and Bone
Credit Line:
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 457
Throughout the Mediterranean, hunting was considered a princely or aristocratic activity. Oliphants were signal horns associated with the hunt. This fragment comes from such a horn, and is elaborately carved with interlacing vines that form linked medallions, enclosing mythical beasts and birds, some of which have tails ending in heads or scrolls.
Georges Hoentschel (French, Paris 1855–1915 Paris), Paris (until 1906; sold to Morgan); J. Pierpont Morgan, New York (1906–d. 1913; his estate 1913–17; gifted to MMA)
Bloomington. Indiana University. "Islamic Art Across the World," June 18, 1970–October 1, 1970, no. 249.

Spitzer, Frederic. La Collection Spitzer: Antiquité, Moyen-âge, Renaissance. vol. 1-2. Paris, 1890–92. no. 30, p. 39, ill. pl. X.

Molinier, Emile. "Histoire générale des arts appliqués à l'industrie du Ve à la fin du XVIIIe siècle." In Les Ivoires. Paris, 1896. no. vol. 1, pp. 93-95, ill. fig. 120-122, 124.

Breck, Joseph, and Meyric R. Rogers. Pierpont Morgan Wing: A Handbook. 2 ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1929. p. 52.

Dimand, Maurice S. A Handbook of Mohammedan Decorative Arts. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1930. pp. 100-101.

Longhurst, M. H. "An Eleventh Century Oliphant." The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs vol. 57 (1933). p. 195, Note: There seems to be confusion in the volume number or date of the Burlington Magazine. The volume cited is 57, yet the date of vol. 57 is 1930. Please check both 1930 and 1933.

Dimand, Maurice S. A Handbook of Muhammadan Art. 2nd rev. and enl. ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1944. p. 128.

Bowie, Theodore Robert. "An Exhibition Prepared by Theodore Bowie." In Islamic Art Across the World. Vol. no. 1970/3. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Art Museum, 1970. no. 249.

Kühnel, Ernst, and J. & S. Goldschmidt. Die Islamische Elfenbeinskulpturen VII–XIII Jahrhundert. no. 30. Berlin: Deutscher Verlag für Kunstwissenschaft, 1971. no. 68, pp.16, 20-23, 57-58, 64, 67, ill. pl. LXVII.

Shalem, Avinoam. "Islamic Objects in Historical Context." In The Oliphant. Leiden, Boston: Brill, 2004. p. 63, ill. fig. 26.

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