Lot 1
  • 1

Siculo-Arabic, 12th century

50,000 - 70,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Casket
  • partially polychromed ivory with gilt copper mounts
  • Siculo-Arabic, 12th century


Sotheby's, London, 7 December 2010, lot 1

Catalogue Note

This casket is one of a group of ivory caskets which are mainly fitted with gilt copper mounts and are believed to have been made in Palermo by Muslim craftsmen during the twelfth-century Norman occupation. The mounts act both as highly decorative features of the whole and as supports for the delicate and fragile ivory walls. The small ring-and-dot motifs that feature at intervals around the lid in the form of small cruciform repeat patterns identify this group and can be found on chess pieces and other ivory objects attributed to 11th/12th-century Sicily. The traces of coloured pigment in the recesses of these incised elements suggest a more lavish original appearance.

An analagous casket, formerly in the Kofler-Truniger collection, was sold in these rooms on 27th April 2005, lot 71. Another example, but with raised claw feet, was also sold at Sotheby's on 13th October 2004, lot 35. Other Siculo-Arabic caskets can be found in in the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore (inv. no. 71.310) and in the Doha Museum (inv. no. iv.03.97).

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; H. Schnitzler, F. Volbach and P. Bloch, Skulpturen: Elfenbein, Perlmutter, Stein, Holz, Europäisches Mittelalter, Sammlung E. und M. Kofler-Truniger, Luzern, Band1, Stuttgart, 1964, no. S25, p. 16