Enkolpion 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 enkolpion 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.
Large Byzantine Enkolpion with Mary
A large Byzantine Enkolpion cross pendant made of bronze, featuring a hinged base and loop suspension for wearing. The front depicts the incised image of the Virgin Mary, her arms raised at her side in the Orans position. Above her head is an inscription announcing her to the viewer, “Παναγία” in Greek, the All-Holy Mother of God. The reverse is decorated with a cross, its arms incised in the pattern of palm fronds, with a round exaggerated centre.
Condition: Very good condition. Some slight wear around the sides and the hinges. The lower hinge is not bolted closed.