A carved ivory horn or 'oliphant'
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York




Horn (Oliphant) with Case
Date: horn, 11th–12th century; case, 16th century
Culture: South Italian
Medium: Ivory, silver, leather
Dimensions: horn: 23 1/16 x 4 15/16 x 4 in. (58.6 x 12.5 x 10.2 cm); case: 22 5/8 x 5 7/8 x 5 7/16 in. (57.5 x 15 x 13.8 cm)
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Accession Number: 04.3.177
Picture Source: Beasts and Hunters in the Galleries: Mesmerizing Ivories and Their Making



Referenced as figure 599 in The military technology of classical Islam by D Nicolle
599. Ivory oliphant, 11th century AD, Sicilian or south Italian, Metropolitan Museum no. 04.3.177 New York (Kuh).
Vol 1, p.175: A certain amount of confusion could surround mail. Its rings were widely referred to in Arabic as zard, zared or zird, which is a term very close to the sard scales of the dirʿ. There does, however, seem to have been a clear distinction between the two terms from the 10th to 14th centuries (see Terminology). The situation in Persian-speaking areas was simpler, for here the term zirih quite clearly referred to mail.43 The pictorial evidence, some of it very stylized and having to be interpreted with caution, shows that mail hauberks of various shapes, long (Figs. 330, 333, 335, 447, 501, 520, 537, 543, 600, and 639) or short (Figs. 134, 196, 246, 267, 292, 294, 305, 392, 515, 522, 541, 598, and 599), with long (Figs.161, 174, 241, 250, 270, 298, 305, 345, 346, 347, 348, 350, 375, 428, 435, 438, 442, 494, 500, 519, 535, 538, 540, 543, 545A-F and H, and 551B) or short sleeves (Figs. 262, 286, 288, 292, 339, 444, 446, 499, 521, 546A, 551, 601, 606, and 661), some opening down the front (Figs. 324F and 641) and others put on over the head (Figs. 157, 316, 377, 422, 517, and 549), were all used in most regions of Islam in most periods.44

43. Firdawsī, op. cit., pp. 368-369, 427 and 828.



Previous: Carved ivory horn or 'oliphant', southern Italy, 11th-12th century, Musée Crozatier, Le Puy, France
Next: Fatimid Ivory casket with Lion Hunt, Sicily or Southern Italy, 11th-12th Centuries, Pergamon Museum, Berlin
Other Illustrations from Sicily or Italy:
Hunter on an 11th century ivory drinking horn, Victoria and Albert Museum
Detail of carved ivory horn or 'oliphant' from Sicily, Musée Crozatier, Le Puy
Frieze over the door of the Church of San Benedetto, Brindisi, late 11th Century
Ivory casket, Fatimid Sicily or Southern Italy, 11th-12th Centuries, Pergamon Museum
Morgan Casket, Southern Italy, 11th-12th century
Islamic Sicilian Ivory Casket with Horsemen, 12th century, Bargello Museum
Sicilian ivory pyxis, 12th century, Louvre Museum
12th century Arabic & Frankish costume in the Painted Wooden Ceiling of the Palatine Chapel; or download this site as a 16.6MB zip
Sicilians & Germans in the Liber ad honorem Augusti by Pietro da Eboli, c.1197
Sicilian Ivory Casket with Hunters, Cappella Palatina, Palermo, 12th or 13th Century
Islamic Sicilian Ivory Casket with Horsemen, Veroli, Italy, c.1200-1225



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