Reliquary Cross (The Cloisters)
The Reliquary Cross is a small (29.8 × 12.5 cm) French metalwork sculpture dated c. 1180, now in The Cloisters museum in New York. The reliquary cross is double armed, and made from silver gilt, crystal, beading and twisted wire, with embossed rosettes and a wood core. It contains six sequences of engravings; on either side of the shaft and on the four sides of the lower arms. These were intended to identify the relics contained within.
It is heavily engraved with lettering, and studded on both sides with more than 60 individual glass cabochons (faux coloured gemstones). Two prominent examples on the reverse emulate turquoise and sardonyx stone. These closely resemble similar gems of the "Chasse of Ambaza", another renowned Limoges reliquary, while the oddly place inscriptions are also a feature of contemporary sculpture of the region.
Inscriptions and relicsEdit
The inscriptions are intended to identify other relics as associated with the massacre of the Innocents, the tomb of Jesus, and the tomb of the Virgin Mary. They include the words "De sepulcro dñi; De sepulcro be Marie" on the right side of the shaft (running up), and the words "S hermetis mi: capilli sci stephi.m" opposite on the left, running down. Unusually, four sets of engravings are set along the upper and lower sides of the lower cross.
The relics are still visible (but barely, they would have originally been far more discernible), and include (assumed) fragments from Jesus' cross, placed behind rock crystal in the rectangular plaque located on the main shaft, prominently set between the two upper cross arms. The plaque contains a smaller cross with a single cross beam.
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