Pyxis (Cylindrical Container)

Object Name: Pyxis

Date: late 11th–early 12th century

Geography: Syria

Culture: Islamic

Medium: Stonepaste; luster-painted on incised, opaque white glaze

Dimensions: Bowl: H. 8 in. (20.3 cm)
Diam. 5 1/2 in. (14 cm)
Lid: H. 3 5/8 in. (9.2 cm)
Diam. 5 1/2 in. (14 cm)
Wt. 8.5 oz. (241 g)

Classification: Ceramics

Credit Line: Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, Harvey and Elizabeth Plotnick Gift, and Louis E. and Theresa S. Seley Purchase Fund for Islamic Art, 1998

Accession Number: 1998.298a, b


This type of luster-painted pottery is known as Tell Minis, after the name of a village in central Syria where a number of these ceramics were found, though there is no evidence proving they were potted there. The condition of this well-proportioned lidded bowl is exceptional, since its surface retains a lustrous quality. The band with vegetal scrolls under the rim offers a pleasant chromatic contrast, and the sequence of partridges atop the lid animates and enhances the decoration. The prominent inscription, in kufic, is an aphorism praising the virtues of patience.