BYZANTINE ENKOLPION RELIQUARY CROSS
Measurements: 7 cm - height
Description: A Byzantine bronze enkolpion reliquary cross featuring a hinged base and a suspension loop for wear. The front is decorated with the incised image of Mary displayed in the Orans position in prayer, with the halo surrounding her head. Above her, written in Greek, is the inscription 'Mother of God', abbreviated from Μήτηρ (του) Θεοῦ to MH ΘΥ above. Depicted on the reverse is the figure of Jesus Christ on the cross.
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 centauries a great number of crosses were made to hold a secondary relic in them containing pieces of saints’ clothing, pieces of the True Cross or hair fragments, and so on. Crosses offered protection to the wearer and would have been available all over the Byzantine Empire.
Extremely Fine condition; complete and intact; with an even, dark green patination.
Period: Circa 9th-11th century AD.
Condition: Fine, barrel-shaped suspension missing, otherwise intact.