Dedicated to the military history and civilization of the Eastern Roman Empire (330 to 1453)

"Time in its irresistible and ceaseless flow carries along on its flood all created things and drowns them in the depths of obscurity."

- - - - Princess Anna Comnena (1083–1153) - Byzantine historian

Friday, December 14, 2012

Byzantine Trade Goods

Trade was a large part of the Byzantine economy
  • Goods from Egypt, Syria and other areas.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York presented: Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition. The exhibit was on display March through July, 2012.
Textiles were only one of the many goods that moved along the trade routes that brought valuables from the east to Byzantium and later to the western Islamic world. Ivory from Africa and India was transported as tusks or carved luxury goods.

In Byzantium's southern provinces and possibly elsewhere, ivory was carved into small boxes or plaques to decorate furniture; less expensive versions were made from bone. Various trade goods such as textiles, openwork censers, gold jewelry, and small clay lamps were decorated with popular motifs that remained in use as the Byzantine empire's southern provinces became part of the Islamic world.

Animal motifs, often associated with the hunt, continued to encourage recognition of the common pursuits of the elite of the Byzantine and Islamic periods. Vine patterns—favored from the classical past through the Byzantine era—appeared, often in more stylized forms, in the Islamic period. Inscriptions became an increasingly prominent decorative motif, at times identifying the donor or providing auspicious wishes for the owner. Depictions of courtly pleasures, including female acrobats, dancers, and musicians, popular under Byzantine rule, were also popular during the Umayyad era.

Necklace and Pendant with Aphrodite Anadyomene

Date:  7th century
Geography:  Made in, Eastern Mediterranean
Medium:  Gold, lapis lazuli, garnet ( ? ), and rock crystal
A large piece of valuable lapis lazuli mimics a shell containing a representation of Aphrodite, the classical goddess of beauty, arranging her hair and wearing jewelry. Her appearance on a woman’s necklace demonstrates the continued resonance of pre-Christian mythology well into the Byzantine and early Islamic periods.

Chalice with Inscription in the Dialect of the Fayyum

Date:  6th–7th century (chalice); Early Islamic period (inscription)
Geography:  Made in, Egypt
Medium:  Silver with gold and gilded silver inlay
Following Byzantine tradition, an inscription identifies the owner of the chalice as a site in the Fayyum, an area noted for textile production. The opening phrase, "In the name of God"—a standard Muslim phrase—came into Christian use during the early period of Muslim rule in the region.

Bucket with a Hunting Scene

Date:  6th century
Geography:  Made in, Eastern Mediterranean
Medium:  Brass, hammered, lathe-turned, chased, and ring-punched; handle cast separately and hammered into shape.
Richly animated animals are part of a hunt, a favorite activity of the elite in the Byzantine world. The inscription in Greek, "Use this in good health, master, for many good years happily," identifies the bucket as being for domestic use, possibly for the elaborate rituals of the bath.

Gold Necklace with Pendants

Date:  ca. 7th century
Culture:  Byzantine
Medium:  Pendants: gold - sheet; scribed, engraved, chased, punched; wire - beaded; granulation. Tubes: gold - sheet; wire - beaded. Chain: gold - strip (half round).
The intricately worked pendants are separated by hexagonal spacers.

Opus interrasile was a technique used by goldsmiths to make elegant jewelry from the 200s through the 600s. Designs were traced onto sheets of gold; the background was punched with holes of various sizes to highlight the pattern; and fine details were then worked on the surface. The patterns formed by piercing the metal ground encouraged the play of light and shadow across an object's surface.

Tapestry Fragment with Inhabited Vine in an Eight-Pointed Star

Date:  5th–6th century
Geography:  Made in, Byzantine Egypt
Culture:  Coptic
Dimensions:  Overall: 10 5/8 x 12 1/2 in. (27 x 31.8 cm) Album Size: just under 26 in x just under 20 in. (some slightly smaller).
Classification:  Textiles

Pair of Crescent-Shaped Earrings with Peacocks

Date:  late 6th-7th century
Geography:  Made in, Eastern Mediterranean
Medium:  Gold
On these openwork earrings—another example of the quality of goldsmithing in Byzantium’s southern provinces—beaded gold wire encloses peacocks facing a central vase. These earrings may have been an engagement or a wedding gift intended to ward off the evil eye.

Pyxis with Crosses and Vine Scrolls

Date:  7th–8th century
Geography:  Made in, Syria (?)
Medium:  Ivory with red paint added later
Dimensions:   3 3/8 in. (8.5 cm); diam: 2 11/16 in. (6.8 cm)
Indicative of social status, these three circular, bellied-shape ivory boxes were luxury objects produced for the elite. Each is decorated with vine scrolls springing from pots, a Byzantine motif drawn from the world of the classical god Dionysos that was also popular during the early Islamic period.

The vines on this luxury object, carved from a single piece of ivory, grow under a series of arcades. As it was intended for a Christian audience, crosses appear regularly on its surface.
See more at metmuseum.org - exhibitions.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

fine beauty art