Cross-Cultural Comparison of the Pyxis and Pedestal Bowl

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Museums are locations set aside to preserve collections of artifacts, cultural and historical objects. Cultural heritage collections need to be preserved well to prevent damage or loss as well as informing people about the historical events. The major museums in the world are located in major cities where visitors can easily reach them. Among the most recognized and visited museums is the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It is located in New York City in the United States. The museum holds a collection of over 5,000 years of the world's culture. Among its collections are paintings, decorative arts, and sculptures. The pedestal bowl and Pyxis (cylindrical container are among some of the collections one can find in the museum.

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Pyxis is a carved container that was initially made of ivory. It is known as Tell Minis ware named after a village in Syria. The material used to make Pyxis is a stone paste and opaque white glaze. It is incised on the outer part, and the indented parts are painted with various designs. The container is in the classification of ceramics. It is dated to be present in the eleventh century until the twelfth century. The geographical location of this sculpture is the Asian continent in the country of Syria. Syria is an Arabic country, and most of its residents have an Islamic culture. It, therefore, has a non-western culture. The Pyxis was, therefore, common among people in the Islamic community. The inscriptions on Pyxis are written in Arabic, which is major language among Muslims. In the eleventh century, Syrian potters used little amounts of silver and a lot of copper to make luster glazes for these containers, which made the luster, have a dark coppery color. Silver was also scarce at that been a reason they used it in small of amounts. The bowl is eight inches high and five inches wide while the lid of the bowl is three inches high and five inches wide. Its accession number in the museum is 1998.298a.

Pedestal bowl is also under the classification of ceramics that are containers. It was made during the fourteenth to the fifteenth century. Its geographical location is from Mexico, and it was common in the culture of Mixtec in Oaxaca. The pedestal bowl has neat finishes, and its surfaces are lacquer like. The vessels are found in various designs whose colors can be white, red and orange. Dark colors such as brown and black have been used on the outer part of the vessel to write manuscripts of the period it was found. They were of high quality and anyone who made them had to have great skills. The dimensions of the ceramic are four inches high and six inches wide. One can access it in the number 1979.206.365 in the museum.

The two collections have similar characteristics. The outer parts of the collections are well designed using various patterns. Each of the pattern or diagram drawn on the sculpture has its unique meaning depending on the origin of the collection. The colors used to design both collections are similar because the art on them is inscribed using dark colors. Both collections are classified under ceramics, and they are made of luster glaze. Both containers also have a base that supports them on the lower part to maintain stability when they are placed on a surface. One of the differences between the two collections is the size and height. The pedestal bowl has a wider diameter, and it is taller than a pyxis. The art on the Pyxis also has indents, unlike the pedestal bowl that has a lacquer-like finishing. Women in Syria used the Pyxis to store ornaments and cosmetics while the pedestal bowl was used for rituals.

These collections were developed through the influence of each origin's religious culture. None of the cultures influenced the other due to their geographical locations. Pyxis has an Arabic origin been the reason it has Arabic inscriptions on the outer surface. Some of the inscriptions on the Pyxis translate as Trust in God Suffices. Perseverance becomes glory' and a person who is patient possesses strength'. The second saying is from an Imam, Ali Talib. This illustrates that the Syrian community respected their religion and followed what their religious leaders told them. The pedestal bowl, on the other hand, has images on the outer surface. There are bladelike forms appearing on the tail and forearms of felines. They signify knives used in making sacrifices among the Mixtec community. In the period the collection was made, Mixtec community worshiped forces of nature, and they made sacrifices to appease the supernatural powers to grant them their needs. The signification of sacrifices, therefore, links to their religious culture. It is, therefore, evident that both collections were developed because of the religious backgrounds each community had.

In conclusion, both the Pyxis and pedestal bowl are in the metropolitan museum of art. They are classified under the ceramics . However, they have different cultural origins. The Pyxis is from an Islamic culture in the country of Syria while the pedestal bowl is from Mexico and its cultural origin is Mixtec. The designs of the vessels are neat and attractive. It is evident from the art on the vessels that religion influenced their designs. Pyxis has Arabic inscriptions on the outer surface. There are indents as well in between the words. The pedestal bowl, on the other hand, has images of felines that signify the sacrifices the Mixtec community made.

Pedestal bowl


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