Complete Reliquary Cross with Archistrategos and St. George
Circa 9th-11th Century AD
Description: Complete bronze reliquary cross (enkolpion) depicting an elaborately robed figure with arms outstretched in prayer with the title Archistrategos incised above. Archistrategos means “commander in chief” and is a title used for luminaries, particularly the archangel Michael, who is most likely represented here. The reverse features a wonderful depiction of St. George with broad rounded shoulders and flowing robes. From Constantinople or Anatolia. A superbly incised and important example with beautiful patina. (See photo below for opposite side.)
Height: 3.3 in (8.5 cm)
Condition: Superb example. Lower hinge intact with original pin.
ΑΡΧΗCΤΡ / ΑΤΗΓΟC
Archistrategos (Michael or another archangel)
ΟΑΓΗΟCΓ / ΗΟΡΓΗΟ / C
Reference: See PITARAKIS, #348, for a very closely related example with St. John and St. George, most certainly from the same workshop and possibly by the same hand.
Background: Archistrategos means “commander-in-chief” and is usually the title of archangels though not exclusively. In written texts, it has been used as title of Christ and Stephen (as well as the archangels). It also occurs for the Satanic hosts, as in Origen. The word originally came from the Hebrew Bible and was transferred through the Septuagint to the Christian world.
Provenance: Formerly in the collection of the Boston scholar Carroll Wales, collected 1952-1970.
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