Complete Enkolpion Depicting Christ, Virgin and St Stephen
Circa 9th-11th Century AD
Description: Complete bronze reliquary cross (enkolpion) decorated on the obverse with two central figures representing the Panaghia, or All Holy Virgin Mary with her son Jesus Christ. This representation symbolizes Mary with Christ in the womb at the moment of the incarnation. Mary’s arms are in the orans position, i.e. arms outspread in prayer, a custom of praying in antiquity that survives in Christianity to this day. Incised crosses decorate the space at each of Mary’s arms. The Christ child is shown wearing a mantle decorated with vertical and horizontal lines. On the reverse, St Stephen is shown with arms outspread and wears a spectacularly decorated robe. By his hand, a symbol of the cross on a mound of rocks.
Height: 3.25 in (8.3 cm)
Condition: Unhinged top and bottom but most likely a matching set. Smooth olive patina on front, obverse side toned. Fore-edge of one arm chipped.
Reference: See PITARAKIS, #279, for a related example of the obverse in the Walters Museum.
Provenance: Formerly in the collection of the Boston scholar Carroll Wales, collected 1952-1970.
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