Ayşe Aydın

Keywords: Istanbul, Ivory Pyxis, Mary, Jesus


The ivory pyxis exhibited at the Istanbul Archaeology Museums was found in Istanbul. Half of it is broken and its base and lid are lost. Depicted on the object is the "Adoration of the Magi" in relief technique. The Virgin Mary is holding Jesus and is sitting on a small folding stool. To the back of the Virgin Mary there is an angel holding a sphere in his left hand and showing Jesus with his right hand forefinger. In front of these three figures there are Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar in their Persian attire. They have high caps, breeches, tunics with long sleeves and belts, and mantles. Two of the depictions of the Magi have survived intact, while only the face and part of a hand of the third have survived. The three are offering their gifts to Jesus. From an iconographic point of view, this pyxis resembles the pyxides in Rouen, Florence and the Vienna Art History Museum, while from a stylistic point of view it resembles the Barberini Diptych, the Maximianus Cathedra, the pyxides in Saint Petersburg and Florence, and the Jesus and Virgin Mary Diptychs. This pyxis must have been made sometime during the late 5th century or first half of the 6th century, in Constantinople.