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Plaque

Date:
12th century
Geography:
Italy, Sicily
Culture:
Islamic
Medium:
Bone; carved and incised
Dimensions:
H. 1 5/8 (4.1 cm) W. 1 3/4 in. (4.4 cm) D. 1/4 in. (0.6 cm)
Classification:
Ivories and Bone
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1967
Accession Number:
67.204.1
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 457
This small pentagonal ivory plaque depicts a lion set against foliage. With one paw raised, the lion tilts its head upwards, and its tail swings back towards the head. The craftsman has carved lines on the body to indicate fur and patterning, and holes bored into the surface may originally have been set with stones. Depictions of animal forms within framing devices were common decorative motifs in objects produced around the Mediterranean in the medieval period, and can be found ornamenting wood, textiles, ivory, metalwork and ceramics.
This piece is one of a pair in the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, with 67.204.2. The iconography of these plaques suggest they may be a derivative of depictions of the four Christian evangelists; here it could be a representation of Mark, whose symbol is a lion.
[ Julius Carlebach Gallery, New York, until 1967; sold to MMA]
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