Byzantine Bronze Enkolpion Cross
A delicately modelled Byzantine bronze enkolpion, featuring a a barrel-shaped suspension loop at the top. The cross presents an unfastened hinged base, hence the cross can be opened. The front is decorated with a stylised image of a crucified Christ, portrayed mostly naked and partially covered by the loin cloth. The back displays the representation of the Virgin Mary, portrayed in the Orans prayer pose, and flanked by two highly stylised busts, possibly saints, apostles or worshippers.
Please note that the stand is for reference only.
Circa 10th-11th century ADProvenance:
With a European gentleman living in the UK. Property of a Surrey gentleman.Condition:
Fine condition - as seen in photos, the bottom hinge is unfastened. The upper hinge is fully functional.
A cross of this sort, also known as an ‘enkolpion’, could be worn as a pectoral cross, and was an attribute of bishops during the Middle Ages. Over the course of the centuries, many of these crosses were produced in such a way as to hold a secondary relic. They might contain, for example, relics which were alleged to be part of a saint’s clothing, pieces of the True Cross, or hair fragments. The cross was the most popular Christian symbol in Byzantium: it offered protection to the wearer and would have been available all over the Empire.
To discover more about Byzantine art, please visit our relevant blog post: The Byzantine Empire, Art and Christianity.