Byzantine Limestone Architectural Roundel with Christogram

$27,840.33

A fine Byzantine limestone architectural roundel, mounted on a custom-made stand. The substantial piece features a circular shape, finely carved onto its frontal face. A Chi-Rho monogram centres the piece, dividing the roundel into six sections enriched by vegetal motifs carved in low relief. The large Christogram is flanked by the Greek letters alpha (A) and omega (ω), which abbreviate the Greek name of Christ ‘ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ’ (Christos) and its appellative “I am the Alpha and the Omega”. A florid wreath frames the image, symbolising Christ’s resurrection and victory over death.

Mounted on a custom-made stand.

Date: Circa 5th - 6th century AD
Condition: Very fine. Some abrasions to the edges and relief pattern consistent with age.

SOLD

Elaborate tombs were a powerful image in Medieval Byzantium from the 9th to the 15th century AD, providing a means to express ideas about death and life after death. Byzantine Christians believed in the gradual separation of the soul from the mortal body, led by the archangel Michael and concluded during the Last Judgement, when the individual soul would have been either condemned to hell or saved within Paradise. Artistic iconographies related to death and salvation functioned as rituals to increase the soul’s likelihood of a positive judgement. The Chi-Rho motif centring this piece is one of the earliest forms of a Christogram, consisting of the first two capitalised letters in the Greek word for Christ (ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ, Christos). Providing a visual representation of the crucifixion of Jesus, it also connects to ideas of salvation and resurrection. An early example can be found in Rome on the 4th century sarcophagus of Domitilla, where the iconography of the Chi-Rho monogram framed by a wreath is used to symbolise the triumph of resurrection over death. The combination of the Chi-Rho with the Greek letters Α (alpha) and Ω (omega), normally seen as a capitalised A and a lower case omega ‘ω’, appear to had been introduced in AD 353 by the usurper Magnentius, on the reverse of coins minted in his name in Roman Gaul. The pair of letters refer to the phrase “ἐγώ εἰμι τὸ Ἄλφα καὶ τὸ Ὦμεγα” (ego eimi to alpha kai to omega), “I am the Alphan and the Omega”, an appellation of Christ and God seen in the Book of Revelation (1:8).

To find more about the connection between Byzantine art and Christianity, please see our relevant blog post: Byzantine Art and Christianity.

Weight 10000 g
Dimensions W 64 cm
Christian Ideology

Culture

Region

Stone

Reference: For a similar item, please see The Metropolitan Museum, item 10.175.89

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