Byzantine Bronze Fragmentary Enkolpion Reliquary Cross

£ 895.00

A fragmentary Byzantine bronze reliquary cross, known as enkolpion. The cross, which is missing its other half, is decorated in high relief with an image typical of Christian iconography, depicting a crucified Christ between two small figures, possible depictions of the Virgin Mary and another Saint. His arms are outstretched upon the cross and a halo shines around his drooping head, facial features are worn. He is portrayed wearing a cloth fastened around his hips.  An inscription in Ancient Greek letters is carved beneath his left arm. Above his head, a plain tablet, together with a sun disc and a crescent moon. Two holes by the tablet at the top, possibly for suspension.

Date: Circa 9th - 10th century AD
Condition: Fine, signs of aging, details worn, beautiful green patina on the surface.

Such a cross, also known as an enkolpion, could have been worn as a pectoral cross, which, during the Middle Ages, was an attribute of bishops. Throughout the centuries a great number of crosses were made to hold a secondary relic in them, containing pieces of saints’ clothing, pieces of the True Cross, hair fragments, and so on. Crosses offered protection to the wearer and would have been available all over the Byzantine Empire.

To learn more about Byzantine crosses, please visit our relevant blog post: Enkolpion Crosses in the Byzantine Empire.

Dimensions L 9.2 x W 6 cm

Southern Europe

Christian Ideology

Christ, Virgin Mary



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