Wearable Early Christian Bronze Crosses
Circa 6th-10th Century AD
Description: Selection of fine bronze solid-cast pendant crosses including: (a) slender rounded-arm type (probably from Constantinople) with original green paste in central cavity; (b) rounded-arm type segmented central section and stylized with acutely tapered arms; and (c-h) six variants of a well-known type, particularly in Egypt and Syria during the early Christian period, of simple pendant cross with punched circle pattern with lengths that taper toward the center. All with attachment loops intact and wearable. See photo below for the reverses.
Length: Range from 1 in (2.5 cm) smallest to 1.5 in. (3.8) for largest.
Condition: All intact as shown.
Provenance: Formerly in the collection of the Boston scholar Carroll Wales, collected 1952-1970.
Reference: For (a) see Early Christian & Byzantine Art, Ed. Richard Temple, #60; for (b) see Early Christian & Byzantine Art Exhibition at the Walters Gallery (1947), #449; and (c-h) see Richard Temple #63.
Background: Demand for pendant crosses began to accelerate in the 6th Century AD as believers sought to hang them suspended from a cord around the neck as a source of divine favor or blessing. While bronze was the most widely available material, pendant crosses were made from a variety of other materials including bone, iron, silver, gold and glass. They were used at every level of society, especially during the period of 'iconoclasm' in the 8th-9th Centuries AD when figural depictions were forbidden by the Orthodox Church. They are among the most durable surviving objects from the Byzantine era and thus provide a physical link to the earliest days of the early Christian church.
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