Pyxis with Vine Scrolls and Birds

7th–8th century
Made in Syria (?)
Ivory and red, blue, and black paint; beechwood lid, painted and gilded, with rock crystal knob and gilt copper fittings, added later
H: 5 1/2 in. (14 cm); diam: 3 3/8 in. (8.5 cm)
Credit Line:
Victoria and Albert Museum, London (136-1866)
Not on view
Indicative of social status, these three circular, bellied-shape ivory boxes were luxury objects produced for the elite. Each is decorated with vine scrolls springing from pots, a Byzantine motif drawn from the world of the classical god Dionysos that was also popular during the early Islamic period.
This box, carved from a single piece of ivory, does not feature Christian iconography, attesting to the importance of the growing Muslim market.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition (7th–9th Century)," March 12, 2012–July 8, 2012.