A fragment from a Byzantine bronze enkolpion with intact loops at the top and bottom. This item would have originally been part of a whole piece, composed of two halves joined by a hinge and meant to be worn on a chain. The front depicts a delicately moulded, stylised image of Christ crucified, arms outstretched upon the cross. He wears a collobium (a sleeveless or short-sleeved garment) with two clavi (bands), an iconographic type established in the Early Christian centuries. Some detailing is also visible on the face. The back is unadorned.
Date: Circa 9th – 10th Century AD Provenance: Ex London Auction Saleroom 2000’s. Condition: Good condition.
Enkolpia were small pendants worn around the neck, and examples have been found tracing back to Late Antiquity. The cross shape was the most popular symbol for such amulets, as the silhouette was believed to have apotropaic qualities. Many enkolpia were designed to hold reliquaries, as can be seen here by the opening function of the pendant. The reliquary was believed to work in tandem with the talismanic qualities of the cross-shape to protect the wearer from harm and evil. Such pieces were very popular in Byzantium, and were made in an assortment of materials, from gold and silver, to bronze and lead.
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