The AMICA Library
AMICA Library Year:
Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects
European; Southern European; Mediterranean
Ancient Greece Early Western World,Ancient Mediterranean,Ancient
Pyxis (Container for Personal Objects)
Geometric Period, 760/735 B.C.
Creation Start Date:
Creation End Date:
Materials and Techniques:
This circular box, or pyxis, was used to contain cosmetics, jewelry, trinkets, or other personal items. Its surface decoration exemplifies the age known as the Geometric Period because of the precise and mathematical style of its painted designs. The handle of the lid is in the form of four horses presented in the Geometric style (so Geometric can be used to refer either to the period or to the style) with cylindrical bodies, short flat necks, tubular heads, and otherwise flat forms. Horse handles appeared first in Geometric works either as a single horse or a pair, and later in teams of three or four, as here. The presentation of inanimate forms as animate beings either human or animal, as in the handle of this pyxis, is a characteristic trait of Greek art in this and other periods.
H.: 28.6 cm (11-1/4 in.); Diam.: 35.9 cm (14-1/8 in.)
The Art Institute of Chicago
Chicago, Illinois, USA
The Art Institute of Chicago, Costa A. Pandeleon Endowment
The horses take on a social significance as emblems of aristocracy, since the raising of horses was an aristocratic pursuit that only the rich could afford. Greece in the Geometric period was an agrarian society with large landowners and tenant farmers. Emerging from the recession caused by the fall of the Mycenean kingdoms, Greece began to form cities (poleis), initiated the Olympic Games, and sent out colonies east and west.
Related Image Identifier Link: