Amulet, 6th century
Byzantine, from Egypt (?)
Hematite amulet carved intaglio, with gilded silver mount; Overall 1 15/16 x 1 7/16 in. (5 x 3.7 cm), Hematite 1 7/8 x 1 7/16 x 3/8 in. (4.8 x 3.6 x 1 cm)
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917 (17.190.491)
Hematite was believed to absorb blood. On the obverse of this amulet, we see a woman afflicted with bleeding kneeling in profile at the feet of Christ. Christ is represented with a cruciform nimbus, holding the Gospels in his left hand as he extends his right hand in a gesture of blessing toward the woman. The figure of Christ is identified by the letters IC XC (Jesus Christ); an abbreviated account of the woman's story from the Gospels (Mark 5:25–35) and (Luke 8:43–48) identifies the figure of the prostrate woman. On the reverse, an unidentified woman standing in an orant pose is placed between two palm trees, a symbol of fertility. This figure may represent either the cured woman from the verso or the Virgin Mary.
The oval stone is placed in a silver-gilt mount with a suspension loop.