Early Byzantine Silver Ring with Virgin Hodegetria

$944.13

An Early Byzantine silver ring featuring a large oval bezel connected to a round section hoop. The piece is decorated with an intaglio of the Virgin seated and holding the infant Jesus in her lap. The image is reminiscent of the Hodegetria, a traditional iconographic depiction of Mary, which sees her holding Christ and gesturing toward him as the path of salvation. Floral scrolls composed of fleurons blossom at either side of the central figure, highlighting the subject and balancing the overall composition.

Closest UK ring size: P.

Date: Circa 4th - 9th century AD
Provenance: From the late Alison Barker collection, a retired London barrister; formed early 1960s-1990s.
Condition: Fine condition.

In stock

SKU: MG-264 Category: Tags: , , , , ,

Following the trends set by the Romans, Byzantine jewellery became a continuation of Roman jewellery traditions. As in many other cultures throughout antiquity, Byzantine jewellery acted not only as an embellishment, but most importantly as a direct display of someone’s wealth and social status. Byzantine rings were often engraved with religious images and served as personal, miniature icons. Typical representations included the Corpus Christi, archangels, saints, and the Virgin Mary with Child. The composition showing the Virgin Hodegetria, ‘She who points the way’, refers to the prototype of the miraculous icon of the Virgin in the Hodegon Monastery of Constantinople. Such iconographic formula shows the Virgin holding Christ and gesturing to him with her free hand, whilst the infant Jesus answers his mother’s prayer by raising his right hand in blessing. 

To discover more about Byzantine jewellery, please visit our relevant blog post: The Byzantine Empire, Art and Christianity.

Weight 3.94 g
Dimensions W 2 x H 2.1 cm
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