The present work belongs to a group of Sicilian caskets believed to have been made in Palermo by Muslim craftsmen during the 12th-century Norman occupation. The tear-shaped mounts act both as highly decorative features of the whole and as supports for the delicate and fragile ivory walls which originally would have been unlined. They were painted with designs which appear to be divided into five groups: abstract designs, floral motifs, animal and bird motifs, human figures and imaginary creatures.
An analagous casket was sold in these rooms on 7 December 2010, lot 1. Another example was also sold at Sotheby's on 9 April 2008, lot 83. Other Siculo-Arabic caskets can be found in major institutions including the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore (inv. no. 71.310) and the Doha Museum (inv. no. iv.03.97).
R. Koechlin, Les ivoires gothiques français, Paris, 1924, vol. I, p. 473, no. 2; R. H. Randall Jr, Masterpieces of Ivory From the Walters Art Gallery, London, 1985, no. 232, pp. 158-159; M. Rosser-Owen, Ivory 8th to 17th centuries: Treasures from the Museum of Islamic Art, Qatar, Doha, 2004, no. 5, pp. 24-29