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Lot 0296
**Originally Listed At $250**

Near East, Byzantine Empire, ca. 8th to 12th century CE. A lovely cast-bronze reliquary, made from three parts, consisting of two crosses that fit together, and a large loop for suspension. Each cross face has an incised cross pattern on its surface. While the cross was once able to be opened to hold a lock of hair or a prayer document, both halves have fused together over time. The entire surface of the cross is covered in dark-green patina with areas of light-brown patina as well. Size: 0.625" W x 1.625" H (1.6 cm x 4.1 cm).

Relics - physical remains of saints or objects associated with Christ, such as pieces of the True Cross, the shroud His body was wrapped in, or the Holy Grail - held tremendous power in medieval Christianity. Reliquaries, objects designed to hold relics, were usually kept in cathedrals or churches, but some wealthy individuals were able to possess them. The less wealthy could purchase replicas of reliquaries, small reliquaries containing less precious items like soil from a holy site, or metal items produced as a form of souvenir from shrines. Later, many of these objects were destroyed in times of religious conflict or strife; ones that are intact have often been passed down through generations of families.

Provenance: private Orange County, California, USA collection

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Cross halves cannot be opened, however suspension loop is still movable. Age-commensurate surface wear, minor areas of loss to incised cross designs, earthen deposits in recessed areas and near hinges, with dark green and light brown patina throughout.

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Byzantine Bronze Enkolpion Reliquary Cross

Estimate $400 - $600Jan 28, 2019