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Pouch-shaped Reliquary from the Treasure of St. Dionysius' Abbey of Enger/Herford

Unknownca. 3rd quarter 8th century (?)

Kunstgewerbemuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin

Kunstgewerbemuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
Berlin, Germany

This reliquary in the form of a purse (Latin: bursa) ranks among the most significant medieval examples of the goldsmith’s art. On the front, twelve stones are arranged around a thirteenth central stone to create a double cross. Images of plants and animals, representing some of the earliest examples of western European gold cloisonné enamel, complement the number symbolism and the symbol of the cross. In the context of Christian iconography the stylized birds, fish, and reptiles embody the Creation, representing the air, the water, and the land. Because it came from the collegiate church in Enger, allegedly founded by Widukind, this purse reliquary has been assumed to be one of the gifts with which Charlemagne (r. 768–814) is reported to have honoured the conquered Saxon leader on the occasion of the latter’s baptism in 785.

Details

  • Title: Pouch-shaped Reliquary from the Treasure of St. Dionysius' Abbey of Enger/Herford
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date: ca. 3rd quarter 8th century (?)
  • Stylistic point of origin: Frankish Empire
  • Rights: Photo © bpk - Photo Agency / Kunstgewerbemuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz / Arne Psille │ Text © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz / Lothar Lambacher
  • Physical Dimensions: w14 x h16 x d5.3 cm
  • ISIL no.: DE-MUS-018417
  • Historical location: Until 1414 Enger, Stiftskirche St. Dionysius; until 1885 Herford, St. Johanniskirche
  • Provenance: Kunstgewerbemuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz
  • Type: Reliquary
  • External Link: http://www.smb.museum/museen-und-einrichtungen/kunstgewerbemuseum/home.html
  • Medium: Gold and gilt silver plate, gemstones, pearls, inlay, cloisonné enamel on gold; oak core

Additional Items

Pouch-shaped Reliquary from the Treasure of St. Dionysius' Abbey of Enger/Herford

Reliquiar in Bursenform aus dem Schatz des Stiftes St. Dionysius zu Enger/Herford

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