Clasp with Intaglio Medallion of the Virgin and Child
Overall: 11/16 x 1 11/16 x 3/16 in. (1.8 x 4.3 x 0.5 cm)
Gift of Helen Miller Gould, 1910
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 301
The incised image and the inscription on the reverse expressed the owner’s devotion to the Virgin as the Theotokos, Mother of God.
As Christianity became the dominant religion in Byzantine society, Christian imagery was increasingly found on jewelry. Crosses appear by the fifth century; the Virgin Mary, saints, angels, and other holy figures became popular in the sixth century. The images were thought to protect the wearer, aid in prayers, and even perform miracles.
Inscription: In Greek: Mother of God, I am thine, save me.
Chauncey Murch, Luxor, Egypt; Helen Miller Gould, New York (until 1910)