Casket with birds and roundels
Museum no. 4535-1859
Some 200 ivory caskets decorated in the Islamic style were made in Sicily in the 12th and early 13th centuries. They were probably made for the court as marriage gifts or for storing precious objects. This casket shows the usual style of painting found on the Sicilian ivories. The most common motifs were floral scrolls within roundels, and various types of birds - those with the crest at the lower corners of the casket are probably peacocks. The same birds are also woven into contemporary Sicilian textiles. On this casket, the joins between the small panels of ivory are disguised by rudimentary plant motifs.