Limoges late 12th century
A phylactery (reliquary container)
The core presumably wooden with engraved and parcel gilt silver mountings. The medallion on the front and the quatrefoil appliqué on the reverse made from copper with engraved, gilded and enamelled decoration and encrusted with rock crystal.. The word phylactery denotes a kind of protective container and refers in general to any small format receptacle designed to hold an amulet. In a Christian context it is often a reliquary container deemed to possess an apotropaic effect. The front face of this quatrefoil reliquary depicts a demi-figure of a saint with a book surrounded by four rock crystals, with further quartz stones set into the edges of the container in the shape of a cross. The reverse is fitted with a compartment covered by a gilt copper plaque with an enamelled depiction of the crucifixion with the Virgin Mary, Saint John, two further figures and the sun and moon above. The reliquary of the Emperor Heinrich II (1002-1024), sanctified in 1146, which was created in Hildesheim in the late 12th century and displays a comparable composition, is housed in the Louvre in Paris (inv. no. OA 49).
With dents and abrasions. Minor losses to the enamel. 24.5 x 17.5 x 3.5 cm (with pricket).