Byzantine Caskets

Casket with Warriors and Dancers

Byzantine (Constantinople), 11th century

Ivory and bone; gilded copper mounts

 

Classical literature and classical images were preserved throughout the Byzantine period. The erotes who dance and wage mock battles on the sides of this casket and tame a female panther on the lid recall imagery associated with the ancient pagan cult of the god Dionysus. On the truncated pyramidal top, we see a series of erotes framed by a vine scroll, cavorting in various poses that emphasize their dancing movement through space. The erotes play instruments such as drums, cymbals, and tambourines, elements of the thiassos, or Dionysiac procession. On the back and right side panels of the box, the erotes rush confrontationally toward one another wearing chitons and carrying weapons in the guise of soldiers. There is an element of joviality and satire found in this imagery that is only seen in such objects that were part of the private life of the Byzantine citizen.

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Casket with Warriors and Mythological Figures

Byzantine (Constantinople), 10th–11th century

Bone and wood; silver lock plate

Casket with Erotes and Animals
Byzantine or Italian (from Northern Adriatic)
12th century
Bone and wood, silk lining, copper mounts 

Reliquary Casket with the Deesis, Archangels, and the Twelve Apostles
Byzantine (probably made in Constantinople)
950–1000

Ivory, with gilt-copper alloy mounts

Box with Sleeping Eros

Roman or Byzantine, 300–400

Silver

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The Byzantine Legacy
Created by David Hendrix Copyright 2016