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.
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).
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
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)
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.