Spherical small container (pyxis) with representations of Christ, Virgin and two archangels

Early Byzantine Period
6th–7th century A.D.

Place of Manufacture: Syria (incl. Syria, eastern Turkey and Lebanon)

Catalogue Raisonné

Highlights: Classical Art (MFA), p. 052-053.


Height x diameter: 7 x 9 cm (2 3/4 x 3 9/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Silver with gilding

Not On View


Europe, The Ancient World



This gilded silver pyxis of spherical form was a container for relics or incense used in Early Byzantine church rites. The four figures produced in repousse technique show a bearded Christ offering a blessing, the Virgin holding an emblem symbolic of her roles as Mother of God (Theotokos), and two archangels dressed in long sleeved tunics with segmenta on their shoulders and hems. The lid is lost but may have had a dedicatory inscription.


1990, sold by a private collector, London, to an American private collector [see note]; 2004, sold by this American collector to Ward and Company, New York; 2004, sold by Ward and Company to George and Margo Behrakis; 2005, gift of George and Margo Behrakis to the MFA. (Accession Date: April 27, 2005)

NOTE: According to a statement provided by the collector in 2004, who “was under the impression…that he [the London collector] had owned the piece for a number of years.”

Credit Line

Gift of George D. and Margo Behrakis in honor of John J. Herrmann, Jr., Curator of Classical Art, 1976-2004