A fine Western Asiatic Chlorite Pyxis, Proto-Elamite Period, ca 2600-2500 BC


Superbly hand-carved from fine, pale grey chlorite, this large vessel features a slightly convex base and sides that taper to an unusual flat square rim.  The interior was firstly hollowed out using sharp metal points, meticulously smoothed by randomly rubbing small serpentine flakes across the gouges while painstakingly modifying the shape until realizing the final form.  Thereafter, the exterior surface was carefully embellished with an incised basket weave pattern.  The accompanying lid with rectangular lug finial, continues this pattern.

No lathe, not even one turned by a simple bow-drill, was used to facilitate this process.  Given the expenditure of labour employed in their manufacture and as most have been discovered either in monumental temples or palaces in Mesopotamia, Iran and along the southern shore of the Persian gulf, such vessels were clearly regarded as prized objects.

Reference:   Pittman, Holly. 1984. Art of the Bronze Age: southeastern Iran, western Central Asia, and the Indus Valley. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Kohl, P. L. 1975a. 'Carved Chlorite Vessels: A Trade in Finished Commodities in the Mid 3rd Millennium'.

Dimensions: Height: 5 3/4 inches (14.6 cm), Diameter: 7 3/4 inches (19.7 cm)

Condition: The vessel is intact and in excellent condition overall.  A superb example.

Provenance:  The Hauge Collection of Ancient & Iranian Art, assembled between 1962 and 1966.  Foreign service brothers, Victor and Osborne Hauge, together with their wives Takako and Gratia, assembled their collection of Persian, Japanese, Chinese, and Southeast Asian works of fine and folk art while stationed overseas with the US government after WWII.   In consultation with academics and dealers, the Hauges assembled over two decades of what  former Freer Gallery of Art director Harold Stern described in 1957 as "without doubt one of the finest private collections in the world".   Victor and Takako published Folk Traditions in Japanese Art to coincide with a traveling exhibition held from 1978 at the Cleveland Museum of Art; Japan House Gallery, New York; and Asian Art Museum, San Francisco.  Much of their collection was donated to the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery at the Smithsonian Institute culminating in an exhibition and published catalogue in 2000. The balance of the collection, including this object, was inherited by descent in 2016.   

Category: Over $10000, Stone, Vessels

Related Items