Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History



  • Bursa Reliquary, early 900s
    North Italian
    Bone, copper–gilt, wood; 7 3/4 x 7 5/16 x 3 1/4 in. (19.7 x 18.6 x 8.3 cm)
    The Cloisters Collection, 1953 (53.19.2)

    Bursa, or purse-shaped, reliquaries are one of the oldest types of reliquary, with numerous surviving examples from the seventh century onward. This one, dating from the tenth century, displays a masterful treatment of ivory wherein the surface is modeled by incision and relief carving while the background is pierced through (ajouré). In the Middle Ages, it was common for ivory-covered reliquaries to display scenes of the life of the saint, whose remains were held within the container, but in this example, the ivory displays more purely decorative imagery.

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    On view at The Cloisers: Gallery 014
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  • Bursa Reliquary, early 900s
    North Italian
    Bone, copper-gilt, wood; 7 3/4 x 7 5/16 x 3 1/4 in. (19.7 x 18.6 x 8.3 cm)
    The Cloisters Collection, 1953 (53.19.2)

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