Byzantine Enkolpion with Mary Orans


A Byzantine cross enkolpion with hinged base and a suspension loop for wear. The cross is formed of two halves, with a barrel-shaped suspension loop at the top and hinge at the bottom. One side displays the figure of Christ on the cross, with a smaller cross above his head. The reverse side depicts Mary, displayed in the Orans position. Above her, written in Greek, is the inscription ‘Mother of God’, abbreviated from Μητηρ (του) Θεου to ΜΗ ΘΥ.

Date: Circa 9th-11th Century AD
Condition: Very fine condition, with patinated bronze: the surfaces just a little rough. Supplied with a metal display stand.


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, 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 disocver more about Byzantine art, please visit our relevant blog post: The Byzantine Empire, Art and Christianity.

Weight 259.3 g
Dimensions H 10 cm



Christian Ideology